With six weeks left until the end of Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period, 3.3 million people have selected plans on either a state or the federal exchange, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Wednesday.
This is a 53% increase in overall enrollment over the previous three months, and HHS reports young adult enrollment is outpacing enrollment of all other age groups combined. In January alone, 1.1 million people selected a plan on federal or state exchanges. Enrollment for those ages 18 to 34 grew to 807,515, making them 27% of the total enrollees.
Of all the ACA enrollees, 1.4 million selected plans in state-based marketplaces and 1.9 million in the federal marketplace.
HHS does not designate whether or not these individuals have paid their first month’s premiums yet, which is how the insurance industry typically determines enrollment.
“These encouraging trends show that more Americans are enrolling every day, and finding quality, affordable coverage in the Marketplace,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in the release.
Under the ACA, every individual in the country has to have insurance by the end of open enrollment period on April 1 or they will face a fine of $95 a year or 1% of their annual income for failing to comply.
Devon Herrick, senior analyst at the National Center for Policy Analysis, says it was expected that younger people would wait to enroll until the end of the enrollment period (April 1), but that the pool is still heavily weighted toward older enrollees.
“It’s not too far removed from what we have been seeing in the past; it’s possible younger enrollees were the ones who remained,” Herrick says. “It’s a slight improvement, but not indicative that everything is working perfectly yet.”
The administration had originally projected to have 7 million enrollees in year one of the ACA, 2.7 million of which are young and healthy people needed to keep premium levels down. Herrick says it remains to be seen if these people will continue to pay their first months’ premium.
“That is what I am concerned about—who is paying, and will continue to pay?” he says.