Enrollment Numbers Exceed Expectations, But The Fight Continues
This week was truly an historic week for those who believe that all Americans deserve access to quality, affordable health care. The Affordable Care Act’s first open enrollment period surged to the finish line, with more than 7 million people enrolling in coverage over the state and federal marketplaces. This is a huge success and shows that the law is working, it’s here to stay and it’s delivering on its promise to provide quality, affordable health coverage that will be there when consumers need it most. But that wasn’t the only evidence this week that the law is working. Let’s take a look at it all:
- 7.1 Million People Sign Up For Health Care Through The ACA. With an enormous final day surge in interest, the open enrollment period closed with 7.1 million sign-ups for private insurance coverage though the ACA. This number beat not only the scaled-back expectation after the faulty website launch of 6 million sign-ups, but even surpassed the 7 million enrollments that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office had originally predicted and the Obama administration said would be a success.
- Medicaid Enrollment Grows By More Than 3 Million. Health care expansion hasn’t been limited to those enrolling in private coverage. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today that over 3 million people signed up for Medicaid between October and February. Of course, not all states have decided to expand Medicaid under the ACA, and that has had a major impact on who’s been signing up: CMS says that “enrollment in states that adopted the Medicaid coverage expansion increased five-fold compared to states that are not expanding Medicaid.”
- Report Announces “The Largest Expansion In Health Coverage In America In Half A Century.” An analysis of enrollment data released earlier this week found that almost ten million people who were previously without health insurance now are covered. The report estimates that two million have enrolled in private coverage on the new marketplaces; about 4.5 million previously uninsured people have gained public coverage through Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion; and about three million previously uninsured young people are now covered on their parents’ insurance plans.
- Millions More Have Enrolled In Private Coverage Off The Exchange. ACA marketplaces are not the only place that individuals have been signing up for coverage. In fact, millions have enrolled directly with insurance companies or through private brokers and online sites. Blue Cross Blue Shield, one of the biggest insurers operating on the individual market, announced that 1.7 million people have bought ACA-compliant coverage from them from October through February. The number does not include March, the final month of enrollment.
But all of this week’s accomplishments draw an especially stark contrast with what progressives are still up against. Paul Ryan, in this year’s GOP budget, again calls for the repeal of Obamacare. He even admitted that a GOP alternative wouldn’t replace the law’s most popular provisions, such as no more discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. House Republicans voted for the 52nd time to undermine the law, this time with a bill that would increase the number of uninsured by 500,000. And 19 states have still refused to expand Medicaid, thereby denying millions of low-income working citizens the ability to access affordable health care.
BOTTOM LINE: This has been a landmark week for health reform advocates, as millions and millions got covered and the uninsured signed up in record numbers. These aren’t just numbers, but represent actual people who now have the peace of mind that comes with health insurance. But there is still work to be done to continue to strengthen law and fight back against those who want to go back to the way it was before.