Enrollment in the health insurance exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act will show only slight gains in 2015, and it could take over three years for exchange enrollment numbers to hit steady marks, administration officials said Monday, according to Politico.
Officials with the Department of Health and Human Services expect up to 9.9 million people to enroll in health care plans through Obamacare exchanges by the end of 2015—far less than the Congressional Budget Office’s projection of 13 million, the report says. Further, exchange enrollment increases could take longer than the three years projected by the CBO.
As of Oct. 15, officials said, 7.1 million people were enrolled in an exchange plan and had paid their premium. The number was cut from the 7.3 million reported in August because 112,000 lost coverage due to issues matching immigration data. About 120,000 households also will have their subsidies adjusted as of Dec. 1 because they did not clear up verification issues related to income.
The department’s latest enrollment estimates are based on coverage renewal rates of 83 percent, which would equal about 6 million people again being covered in 2015. HHS expects currently uninsured Americans to account for most new exchange enrollment, with an official suggesting an 83 percent retention rate among them.
The news comes just as open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act is set to begin Nov. 15 for uninsured Americans, who have until Feb. 15 to sign up for new plans.
Shoppers hoping to preview offerings can now go to the federal exchange web site, healthcare.gov, to browse estimated premiums, deductibles and maximum out-of-pocket costs for 2015, according to CNNMoney. Healthcare.gov serves consumers in more than 30 states.
“New features will give consumers a comprehensive picture of the plans in their area so they can choose the one that’s right for them,” said Marilyn Tavenner, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which runs the exchange.
The sneak peek is just one of many changes introduced by the Obama administration, which came under fire last year after the federal exchange crashed on opening day and was “hobbled” for three months, CNNMoney notes. Kevin Counihan, who led Connecticut’s state exchange, is now the chief executive in charge of the federal exchange.
The preview, which was not added until later during the last enrollment period, proved to be the most popular section on healthcare.gov, garnering three times the traffic of any other page on the website, according to CNNMoney.
Americans must enroll for health coverage or pay a hefty fee that is calculated one of 2 ways, according to healthcare.gov.
If you don’t have coverage in 2015, you’ll pay the higher of these two amounts:
2 percent of your yearly household income. (Only the amount of income above the tax filing threshold, about $10,000 for an individual, is used to calculate the penalty.) The maximum penalty is the national average premium for a bronze plan.
$325 per person for the year ($162.50 per child under 18). The maximum penalty per family using this method is $975.
President Barack Obama vowed last week that the site would function better this year.
“We’re really making sure the website works super well … we’re double and triple checking it,” he said.