Week 1: Enrollment indicates that Day 1 HealthCare.gov technical issues were far more serious than originally reported by CMS

Joshua Peck
Nov 6, 2019 · 3 min read

Today, CMS released its first Weekly Enrollment Snapshot for “Week 1” enrollment report and announced that 177,082 people had selected a plan. Of these, 48,923, were people who didn’t have existing coverage (new consumers) and 128,159 were customers renewing their coverage. This weekly snapshot provides clear evidence that the technical issues with HealthCare.gov last Friday were far more serious that CMS led us to believe.

CMS uses a standardized Sunday-through-Saturday format for its weekly reporting. As a result, this first “weekly” report this year consists of just two days: Friday and Saturday. However, this standardization often makes Week 1 reports difficult to compare because they include a different number of days each year. For example, there were three days during “Week 1” of the 2018 Open Enrollment period: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Last year, 371,676 people enrolled during the three day Week 1. It comes as no surprise that fewer people enrolled over the course of two days this year than did over the course of three days last year. Our estimate yesterday of the number of people who we expected to enroll over the first two days was that we’d see closer to 275,000 enrollments.

The enrollment numbers released today suggest the technical issues that occurred on the site last Friday were likely far more significant than CMS had reported. We estimate that roughly 100,000 fewer people enrolled on Friday due to technical issues.

In addition to our estimate from yesterday, HealthCare.gov web traffic tells a very clear story. Over the first 3 days last year CMS reported that there were 1,553,171 HealthCare.gov users and roughly 24% made a plan selection. During the first four days two years ago CMS reported that there were 2,571,931 HealthCare.gov users and roughly 23% made a plan selection. This year, over the course of 2 days there were 1,184,305 HealthCare.gov users and just 15% made a plan selection. If the same number of percentage of people that selected a plan last year did so this year roughly 282,000 people would have enrolled.

We strongly encourage the potentially 100,000 customers that tried to sign-up for coverage or renew existing coverage last Friday and could not do so to return to HealthCare.gov and try again.

The administration’s claim that enrollment over the first weekend was comparable to the same weekend last year may be accurate, but is entirely misleading. Friday is the first day of Open Enrollment — a day which sees a huge spike in consumer interest. Comparing the first day of Open Enrollment this year with the first day of Open Enrollment last year would be a meaningful comparison.

The Trump administration cut 45 days out of the Open Enrollment period during its first year, so this will be the third Open Enrollment that is 45 days long which should offer greater understanding of enrollment trends. Unfortunately, due to the limited data and the impact of last Friday’s technical issues this first week’s numbers offers very little insight into how Open Enrollment is performing more broadly this year.

Get America Covered week-by-week enrollment comparison Fact Sheet.

Get America Covered

Get America Covered helps people looking for health insurance get covered and stay covered.

Joshua Peck

Written by

Co-Founder Get America Covered, Former Chief Marketing Officer for HealthCare.gov

Get America Covered

Get America Covered helps people looking for health insurance get covered and stay covered.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade