The Real Significance of 7.1 Million: 6 Million Was Supposed to Be For All of 2014

By William Tomasko

All week, everyone has been buzzing about the news that more than seven million people signed up to get covered through the federally facilitated health insurance marketplaces during the first open enrollment period — on top of the millions more who became eligible for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

But the news is even more encouraging when you take into account a key piece of information that most news coverage hasn’t highlighted.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) had predicted in February that six million Americans would enroll in plans through the marketplaces during the entire calendar year of 2014.

But after only three months of 2014, signups were already more than a million above the six million benchmark — and also higher than CBO’s original prediction of seven million!

And don’t forget, consumers will continue to sign up through the marketplaces during special enrollment periods, and not all state-based marketplaces have finished reporting their sign-up totals. Furthermore, consumers who are still “in line” on HealthCare.gov can still get enrolled (see this page for the official guidance for consumers).

However, not all of the 7.1 million individuals who have enrolled in coverage have paid their premiums (a requirement before coverage can kick in). The payment deadline for many new enrollees has not yet passed, so everyone who has been helping consumers through the enrollment process still has a major opportunity to help consumers cross that finish line — and to help them know how to keep their coverage all year (see our February issue brief for tips on how to help consumers stay covered).

So the work goes on. In-person help will remain crucial year-round to make sure consumers know what they need to do to keep their new health coverage, and Enroll America will be there every step of the way to maximize the number who stay covered. But everyone who has worked so hard on outreach and enrollment deserves to take a moment to be proud of how far we’ve already come.

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