Minnesota enrolls 12x as many people in first 2 days as last year...but there's an important caveat

Last year, MNsure, Minnesota's technically (and actuarially) troubled ACA exchange enrolled "several hundred" people in Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) in the first day, and exactly 6,864 people in the first 17 days...which breaks out to an average of 404 per day for the first couple of weeks.

This year, just as I estimated last night, MNsure has already enrolled over 10,000 people...in just the first 2 days of operation:

With improvements at the call center and on the website, MNsure has enrolled a record number of Minnesotans in coverage, O’Toole said.

“We’ve helped more Minnesotans than we have in any two day period in our history,” she said. “We’ve now enrolled more than 10,000 Minnesotans. That’s a benchmark that we didn’t hit until after Thanksgiving last year.”

10K in 2 days is an average of 5,000 per day...a pace a whopping 12.4x faster than the first few days in 2015.

On the surface, this is jaw-droppingly impressive...even moreso given a) MNsure's technical problems on Tuesday and b) all the concern over the state's massive unsubsidized rate hikes next year.

Seeing how Minnesota has only 1.7% of the U.S. population, and only enrolled 0.66% of all ACA exchange enrollees nationally this year, a straight extrapolation would suggest anywhere between 590,000 - 1.5 million people have already enrolled nationally (which would be anywhere from 3 - 7x more than my own expectations). If that's the case, this would be a stunning launch for the 2017 Open Enrollment Period.

However, there's one very important caveat at play as well:

As a unique workaround to tide the precarious individual market over this year, MN is instituting a special rule: They're placing enrollment caps on 4 of the 5 participating insurance carriers. That means that it's a first-come, first-serve situation; anyone who misses the cut-off numbers for HealthPartners, Medica or Ucare will only have BluePlus to choose from (which has no cap...they're the HMO branch of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota).

Yup. It sounds like the residents of Minnesota are slightly more...motivated...to sign up early than they are in the other 49 states.