HHS Confirms: 5M QHPs (or Yay, Me...and Yes, 6M, 6.5M or even 7M are possible)
HHS just confirmed my post from a few hours earlier today:
As this historic open enrollment period enters its final weeks, millions of Americans are finding quality, affordable coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Fernando Valdez and Denise Schroeder were part of a weekend wave of consumers signing up for new coverage and bringing enrollment nationwide to more than 5 million through the Federal and State-based Marketplaces since October 1st.
OK, so what does this mean for the final 2 weeks?
Well, first of all, my projection model has the actual number closer to 5.09 million as of today, which would mean they actually hit 5M sometime yesterday morning. The wording of the HHS blog entry ("a weekend wave") supports this; presumably it took most of the business day to double-check the data, make sure there weren't any transposed numbers, prepare the press release and so forth. Maybe it didn't actually hit 5M until this morning, but I find it hard to imagine that Kathleen Sebelius and her staff were standing around a big PBS-style Tote Board, breathlessly waiting for the QHP Odometer to turn from all 9's to the Big Five. Then again, you never know...
Anyway, If I'm correct, then to hit the CBO's lowered 6M projection, they'll have to enroll an additional 910,000 people in 15 days, or 60,667 per day (call it 60,700).
For comparison, they hit 56,500/day for the first half of the month (3/02 - 3/16), so unless I'm seriously mistaken, 6 million should be quite doable at this point.
How about 6.5 million? Well, that would require 94,000 enrollments per day. That would be roughly 48% higher than the December daily average of 63,883/day...although that included the entire month of December, not just the last 2 weeks where the Surge really kicked in. So yes, 6.5M is doable, although the finale would really have to haul ass to get there.
Finally, how about the Holy Grail: The CBO's original projection of 7 million exchange-based QHP enrollees?
To get there, we're talking about 1.91 million people in 15 days, or a whopping 127,300/day.
While this may sound improbable, there's actually an outside chance of achieving it. As I noted yesterday (when I figured it would take a day longer to hit 5M), California actually hit 30,000 enrollments in a single day on December 23rd, and 20K/day for several other days during the crazy late-December rush.
Since California has pretty consistently accounted for around 20% of the total QHPs nationally, 100K - 150K per day is conceivable for the final week or so of March.
Likely? Probably not. Conceivable? Yes.