Source: USA Today
More people signed up for insurance on HealthCare.gov on Thursday than any time since the launch of the Affordable Care Act exchanges three years ago, President Obama announced Friday.
More than 670,000 people signed up for coverage ahead of the Dec. 15 deadline for Jan. 1 coverage. And that’s despite the fact about 1 million people had to leave their contact information as they couldn’t get on the site. About 600,000 people signed up last year on Dec. 15.
The traffic jam prompted the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to announce late Thursday that the deadline for enrollment on the federal exchange was extended until 11:59 PM PST on Dec. 19. HealthCare.gov handles enrollment for 38 states. Deadlines for state exchanges vary, but several allow enrollment for Jan. 1 coverage for a few more days.
Signups rose steadily this week. On Monday, more than 325,000 Americans selected plans on HealthCare.gov. On Tuesday, more than 380,000 Americans selected plans on HealthCare.gov, marking two of the biggest days in HealthCare.gov history.
Obama, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and comedian Bill Murray were among those doing videos to encourage enrollment.
The administration has been aggressively promoting the law as Republican members of Congress and President-elect Donald Trump vow to repeal it next month. Even with a repeal, however, people who don’t have insurance through their jobs will still be required to buy it at least through 2017 and likely longer. A plan to replace the ACA could take several years.
Earlier this week, Burwell went on a four-city tour to Tampa, Orlando, New York and East Newark,N.J., to meet with people who benefited from the ACA and encourage Americans to get covered.
As Congress and the incoming Donald Trump administration consider repealing and replacing Obamacare, supporters say what worked with the law — like getting 20 million people insured — has been overshadowed by the focus on insurers’ claims about losses and soaring rates for those who don’t get heavily subsidized plans.
“Plans have been very vocal about describing features of the market that they think are not working optimally (but) they are also learning what they can do to improve their experience,” Hempstead says.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services declined to comment, but Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt told reporters recently that insurers are just starting to learn how to price their plans for the ACA exchanges.