Even MORE positive HC.gov news: The January enrollees are younger

On top of the other big two data drops today (the Week Seven HC.gov Snapshot and the Q3 Effectuated Enrollment Report), CMS decided to really pile on the data just ahead of Christmas 

Open Enrollment Trends: Selected HealthCare.gov Statistics prior to the January 1, 2016 Coverage Deadline

Since Open Enrollment began on November 1, millions of Americans have learned about the financial help available and selected quality plans through the Marketplace for 2016. While six weeks remain before the final deadline, early consumer behavior and enrollment trends are beginning to surface. The following charts provide a preliminary analysis of plan selections ahead of the deadline for January 1 coverage through the HealthCare.gov platform.

As a reminder, Open Enrollment for 2016 coverage (OE3) began on November 1 and runs through January 31. Consumers who wanted coverage to start on January 1, 2016, needed to enroll by December 15. Due to unprecedented consumer demand in the days leading up to December 15, CMS extended the deadline for January 1 coverage to December 17 for the 38 states that use HealthCare.gov. Last year, Open Enrollment for 2015 coverage (OE2) began on November 15 and ran through February 15.

Nearly 6 Million Plan Selections Nov 1 – Dec 17. Through the deadline for January 1, 2016 coverage, almost 6 million people signed up for health coverage through HealthCare.gov, compared to last year when about 3.4 million had signed up by the first enrollment deadline. Of the nearly 6 million total consumers already enrolled for 2016 coverage, 2.4 million are new consumers, compared to 1.8 million new consumers in the same period for OE2.  Note: None of the OE2 and OE3 figures reported in this document include individuals auto-enrolled for January 1 coverage.  Nor do they include plan selections in the 13 State-based Marketplaces that use their own technology platform.

Chart 1: Plan Selections Continue to Grow: More new and more returning consumers.


Consumers Are Younger: The average age of a consumer in OE3 is lower through the deadline for January 1st coverage this year than through the deadline in OE2. In fact, there are nearly twice as many consumers under the age of 35 ahead of the deadline for January 1 coverage this year compared to last. By the end of the first deadline this year (December 17), there were about 2.1 million HealthCare.gov consumers under 35 years old, compared to about 1.1 million before the first deadline last year. Those under 35 composed 35% of HealthCare.gov consumers by the end of the first deadline this year, compared to 33% before the deadline last year for January 1 coverage.

At face value, these numbers don't seem to make much sense (how can there be 91% more sub35ers but they only make up 2% more of the total?), but bear in mind that the total has increased substantially as well:

  • 2015: 1.1 million out of 3.4 million = 32.3%
  • 2016: 2.1 million out of 6.0 million = 35.0%

...so the percentage increase isn't as impressive as the raw number indicates, but it's still an important improvement.

Chart 2: Total of All Plan Selections Under Age 35

There are more new young consumers this year than last year: at the end of the first deadline (December 17), there were about 980,000 new HealthCare.gov consumers under 35 years. That compares to about 670,000 before the first deadline last year. Put another way: those under 35 composed 41% of new HealthCare.gov consumers by the end of the first deadline this year (December 17), compared to 38% before the deadline last year (December 15).


Chart 3: Total New Plan Selections Under Age 35