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December Update – Covered California Leads the US in Exchange Applications

Nationally, fewer people have enrolled in coverage through the Exchanges than expected. However, given that the federal website had limited functionality until recently, the Exchanges received significant interest in the first two months of open enrollment.

From October 1 through November 20, a total of 39 million people visited healthcare.gov and state-based Exchange websites, and 5.2 million calls were placed to the Exchanges. While only 365,000 people have selected a plan, over 3.7 million people have applied for coverage. Of that number, 2.3 million were deemed eligible to participate in an Exchange and 803,000 qualified for Medicaid or CHIP.

national enrollment

That leaves 1.9 million people who have applied and qualified for Exchange coverage, but have not selected a plan. This is not necessarily a poor outcome. Consumers should take the task of choosing a plan very seriously and should take advantage of the time available to weigh options. Some of these individuals may not complete enrollment because they find the premiums too high or the networks incompatible with their preferences, but many of these consumers may return to the Exchanges, hopefully by the plan selection deadline December 23, and enroll in a health plan.

Enrollment is expected to boom closer to both the December 23 and March 31 deadlines. The improved functionality of the federal website should also increase the number of applications submitted.

In California

In California, over 107,000 people selected a plan as of November 30. More than a quarter of a million applications have been submitted, totaling 448,000 individuals seeking coverage. California has the largest number of submitted applications and individuals enrolled in the country.
nov cal

December has brought an uptick in interest in Covered California. In the first week of December, over 640,000 people visited CoveredCA.com, compared to 374,000-475,000 visitors per week in November.

covered visits

There was also the largest call volume, 144,000, so far this week. Unfortunately, this created long wait times averaging 36 minutes. Both calls and website visits dipped the week of Thanksgiving.

call volume
Covered California is still facing issues recruiting certified enrollment counselors, with only 2,344 individuals having completed certification. An additional 3,713 CECs have not completed the certification process. The number of agents certified rose steadily since October, with 8,267 now certified.

CACs

As 2014 approaches, consumer interest and actual applications should increase. Two months down, four to go.

For the full information on the Exchanges’ progress nationally and the enrollment numbers, see the HHS report. For information on consumer interest in Covered CA, see today’s press release.

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