Obamacare enrollment dropped off 25% over the course of 2015

posted at 6:41 pm on March 11, 2016 by John Sexton

New figures released Friday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) show that the number of people who dropped their Obamacare plans during 2015 was greater than anticipated. The Hill reports on the actual numbers versus the enrollment target by the Obama administration:

The administration’s target was for 9.1 million people to have “effectuated” coverage at the end of 2015, meaning they were paying their premiums. However, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Friday that 8.8 million people were enrolled at the end of the year instead.

That is a drop of almost 25 percent compared to the 11.7 million people who were signed up at the beginning of 2015.

The press release put out by CMS doesn’t mention the failure to meet expectations, only the increase in enrollment from the previous year:

“At the end of 2015, about 8.8 million people had health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplaces, up from 6.3 million the year before, a nearly 40 percent year-over-year increase,” said Kevin Counihan, CEO of the Health Insurance Marketplace. “This rapid progress in expanding access to coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace is a major reason why the share of Americans with health insurance rose above 90 percent in 2015 for the first time ever.

As to why the number of people dropping out was larger than expected, the tail end of the press release notes a significant number of people were dropped from coverage because of inconsistencies in their applications relating to citizenship or immigration status:

During the time period from October 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015, enrollment in coverage through the Federally-facilitated Marketplaces was terminated for about 30,000 consumers with citizenship or immigration status data matching issues who failed to produce sufficient documentation of their citizenship or immigration status. During the same time period, about 57,000 households with annual household income inconsistencies had their APTC and/or CSRs for 2015 coverage adjusted. In total during 2015, coverage was terminated for about 500,000 consumers with citizenship or immigration data matching issues and APTC and/or CSRs were adjusted for 1.2 million consumers.

Following the latest open enrollment period there were 12.7 million people enrolled in the program. If that total were to experience a similar 25% decline over 2016, there would be approximately 9.5 million enrollees remaining at the end of the year. That would be less than the 10 million HHS Secretary Burwell predicted last year. The 10 million prediction was already a significant decline from a March 2015 CBO prediction of 21 million enrollees for 2016. In January of this year, CBO revised that estimate down to 13 million.


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