(Bloomberg) – Americans signed up for Obamacare plans at a brisk pace early in this year’s open-enrollment period, despite repeated White House efforts to undermine the health law.
All this discussion about repeal made people aware that, ‘Wow, I should be grateful for what I have access to,”’ says Len Nichols, director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. “There’s just way more consciousness to the value of health insurance than before they tried to repeal it.”
In New York, more people enrolled and traffic to the state’s insurance marketplace website is up by 30 percent, says a spokesman for the state’s health department. Calls to the market’s call center were down 7 percent. It’s too early to release detailed enrollment numbers, which will be available late November, Hammond said by email.
Maryland saw enrollments double to 10,000 in the first six days, says Andrew Ratner, chief marketing officer for the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. That counts new enrollees and returning customers who actively logged in to change plans. Traffic to the website and mobile app are also up significantly, Ratner said.
The rate hikes many insurers made have actually created better deals for consumers eligible for subsidies, according to Ratner, because the amount of the subsidies is tied to premiums in the marketplace.
“For people who are within the window of getting subsidies, some of them are seeing better prices than they had a year ago — and much better prices,” he says.
In California, about 5,900 people selected plans on Nov. 1, up about 25 percent compared to last year, says a spokesman for Covered California, the state’s insurance marketplace.
Medica, a health insurer that offers plans in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, said sign-ups so far are in line with its expectations.
“We’re about where we expected to be at this time of the year,” says a company spokesman. Bury said he couldn’t compare sign-ups to previous years because competitors have dropped out in some markets.
The computer systems to process applications have been working properly, he says. “We haven’t had any technical glitches. It’s gone pretty smoothly.”
The CMS numbers released Thursday show that new customers totaled 137,322 while 464,140 renewed coverage in the Nov. 1-4 period. The agency measures enrollment snapshots Sunday through Saturday so the first official week is typically a short one.
Advocates of the law have attempted to bolster enrollment in lieu of government help, with a sign-up period expected to be shorter this year.
Open enrollment for 2018 will end Dec. 15 this year. The 2017 enrollment period ended on Jan. 31. In past years, many people have been signing up close to the deadline.
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