UPDATE: 2016 Open Enrollment Tally: 12.7M (or 13.0M, or 13.4M, depending on POV...)

OK. As expected, HHS released the "top line" number for the 2016 Open Enrollment Period: 12.7 million Qualified Health Plan enrollments nationally.

On the one hand, yes, I blew it this year: This is almost exactly 2.0 million fewer than the 14.7 million I originally projected for this year.

HOWEVER, as I've noted many times before, this isn't an apples to apples comparison, because that 12.7 million is after subtracting a minimum of 300,000 cancelled plans (pre-purging). The first two years, any plan cancellations during open enrollment weren't subtracted until after the dust settled; this year, due to improved backend software, CMS was able to purge/remove most cancelled plans from HC.gov on the fly.

In other words, an apples to apples comparison of the actual grand total of QHP selections vs. the same figure last year is at least 13.0 million (actually somewhat higher, since CMS hasn't released the total number of "pre-purges").

But wait, there's more! As I've noted before (and as CMS emphasized in today's report), there were also over 400,000 New York residents who enrolled in their brand-new Basic Health Plan program. While these aren't technically QHPs, they basically cannibalized the same population who would otherwise have qualified for QHP enrollment. Therefore, it could be argued that the "true" OE3 private policy enrollment number is actually around 13.4 million. Minnesota also had around 33,000 people enroll in their BHP program this year, but they've had that in place for many years (even before the ACA), and I've never included those folks in my QHP tally, so I'm not gonna do so now. It's up to you whether you feel they should be "counted" or not.

So, there you have it: The final number is either 12.7 million, 13.0 million or 13.4 million depending on your point of view.

The California and District of Columbia exchanges have also just released their numbers, so I've now officially confirmed 12,639,435 QHP selections. The remaining 60K or so to bring it up to the 12.7 million grand total announced today will be made up for in the missing data from the following 5 states:

  • Connecticut: 12 days missing
  • Idaho: 5 days missing (final number to be announced "after February 15")
  • Massachusetts: 31 days missing (next board meeting: February 11th)
  • New York: 7 days missing
  • Vermont: 36 days missing

In addition, there will still be a small number of additional enrollees from those in Maryland, California and Washington State who started their enrollments by the 1/31 deadline and were granted a several-day extension period, as well as some in Colorado (and other states) who can take advantage of the 60-day "lost coverage" SEP.

UPDATE 2/5/16: Kentucky just released their numbers as well.

Meanwhile, here's the official Week 13 HC.gov Snapshot Report:

Health Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment Snapshot - Week 13 • January 24, 2016 – February 1, 2016

On January 31, Open Enrollment for 2016 coverage ended, with about 12.7 million plan selections through the Health Insurance Marketplaces. Of the 12.7 million consumers enrolling in Marketplace coverage, over 9.6 million came through the HealthCare.gov platform and 3.1 million selected a plan through State-based Marketplaces. It is also worth noting that nearly 400,000 people signed up for New York’s new Basic Health Program, along with about 33,000 people who signed up for Minnesota’s Basic Health Program, during this Open Enrollment. Basic Health Programs are state based programs supported by the Affordable Care Act that provide health insurance coverage to low income individuals who would generally otherwise be eligible for qualified health plans. In fact, about 300,000 of the New York Basic Health Program enrollees for 2016 are people who enrolled in Marketplace coverage for 2015 and were included in last year’s Marketplace total plan selections.

Again, you could easily argue that the grand national total should be either 400K or at least 300K higher due to the NY BHP factor.

The Week 13 Open Enrollment Snapshot extends through 11:59pm EST on Monday, February 1, instead of through the January 31 deadline, to better capture consumers who may have been in line. This is the final snapshot for 2016 Open Enrollment.

OK, so the odds are there will only be a few thousand "overtime" stragglers tacked onto the grand total for HC.gov; fair enough.

“Open Enrollment for 2016 is over and we are happy to report it was a success,” said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell. “The Health Insurance Marketplace is changing people’s lives for the better. Across the country, about 12.7 million Americans selected affordable, quality health plans for 2016 coverage, exceeding our goals. That includes over 4 million new consumers in the HealthCare.gov states who signed-up for coverage this year. The Marketplace is growing and getting stronger and the ACA has become a crucial part of healthcare in America.”

Of the 9.6 million consumers who got coverage through the HealthCare.gov platform, about 4.0 million are new consumers, which means about 42 percent of all plan selections were from new consumers. This does not include other new plan selections from State-based Marketplaces which will increase the total number of new consumers for 2016. In addition to the 4 million new HealthCare.gov consumers, about 3.9 million were returning Marketplace consumers who actively selected a plan and about 1.7 million were automatically enrolled by the Marketplace.

OK, so that's 5.6 million re-enrollees (active or passive) via the federal exchange.

They also again called attention to the "purge factor" noted above:

It is important to keep in mind that, because of improvements we made to further automate transactions with insurers, this year’s plan selection totals take into account any consumer initiated or insurer initiated cancellations that occurred during Open Enrollment. Last year’s totals only accounted for consumer-initiated cancellations, which means that this year’s totals have accounted for a larger number of cancellations during, rather than after, Open Enrollment. Because of these changes, there will likely be a smaller difference this year between plan selection totals at the end of Open Enrollment and subsequent effectuated enrollment snapshots.

Here's the actual numbers for HC.gov:

I've gone into the state-by-state comparisons in a separate post.