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Covered California Enrollment Beats Projections

News  |  By Doug Desjardins  
   February 15, 2017

The final count was roughly 3% below last year's total, but was higher than the predicted enrollment of 400,000. More than 50,000 people enrolled during last two days.

This story originally appeared in California Healthfax.

Covered California ended open enrollment with more than 412,000 new sign-ups driven by a late surge of enrollees during the last two days of the enrollment period.

The final tally for the three-month period that began November 1, 2016 was 412,105 enrollees. The total was about 3% below last year's total of more than 425,000 enrollees, but it beat the predicted enrollment of 400,000.

The late rally was driven by a four-day extension of the enrollment period that pushed the original deadline from January 31 to February 4.

"California met our projections, driven by the nearly 50,000 consumers who signed up for health insurance in the last few days of open enrollment," said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California.

Young adults age 18–34 accounted for 37% of all enrollees, compared to 38% last year, 34% in 2015, and 29% in 2014. Young adults tend to be healthier and use the healthcare system less than older people, which helps keep premiums down.

'A Good Mix'
"Covered California is continuing to enroll consumers in large numbers with a good mix of younger and older, which helps keep rates down for everyone and keeps the entire individual market stable," said Lee.

The decline in enrollment this year was expected, given that the percentage of uninsured residents in the state dropped from 17.2% in 2012 to 8.6% in 2016, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

"We had a projected enrollment estimate for this year that we were able to surpass," said Covered California spokesperson James Scullary.

"With the number of uninsured people in the state declining each year, we would expect enrollment totals to decline since there are fewer people out there who need health coverage."

Medi-Cal Enrollment Tops 13.5 million

Nationally, enrollment figures for dropped 5% from last year, with approximately 9.2 million consumers signing up for coverage during the recently ended enrollment period compared to about 9.7 million last year.

During the last week of open enrollment on, only 375,000 people signed up for coverage compared to nearly 700,000 last year.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) pulled nearly $5 million in marketing funds from efforts to promote enrollment during the final few days of the enrollment period, which might have affected the final enrollment total.

Covered California's last-week marketing push wasn't impacted by the HHS decision to withdraw federal funding from the program, officials said.

Some state exchanges reported an increase in enrollment. For example, Washington State's HealthplanFinder exchange reported that more than 225,000 people signed up for coverage during the 2016–2017 enrollment period, a 13% increase from last year.

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