Week 2: The Undermining of Open Enrollment May Be Taking Its Toll

Joshua Peck
Nov 14, 2018 · 2 min read

Today, CMS released the first full week of enrollment numbers for the 2018 Open Enrollment period. While 10 days of enrollment data is not enough to predict the course of the rest of Open Enrollment, this is enough data to draw some initial insight into what performance may look like this year.

Comparing cumulative enrollments so far this year (10 days), to cumulative enrollments at this point last year (11 days), we see a roughly 12–13% decline in total sign-ups, new people signing up for coverage and active renewal. Comparing the performance of each year’s Week 2 (7 days to 7 days), which is the closest apples-to-apples comparison we have, we see an 8% decline in total signups, an 11% decline in new people signing up and 7% decline in active renewal. This comparison also shows a decline, albeit slightly smaller.

Early data suggests a notable year-over-year decline in enrollment. Part of this could be attributable to people gaining access to coverage; for instance, through Medicaid (Virginia has since expanded). But given the actions over the last two years by the Trump administration to undermine Open Enrollment, this decline is concerning. Enrollment performance is driven by multiple forces such as the price of plans with and without subsidies, how hard or easy it is to sign up, how effective awareness campaigns are and more.

But it appears that the Trump administration’s relentless efforts to undermine the marketplaces and Open Enrollment is taking its toll. The effect of another year with minimal outreach, limited navigator funding plus new policies that drive up costs and drive down enrollment is greater than the sum of its parts. These actions impact awareness of both deadlines and the availability of affordable plans.

This should be a wake up call to everyone who cares about people having health care including hospitals, other health care providers and state and local officials on the need to step up efforts to raise awareness and get America covered.

Week 2 Open Enrollment Totals

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