The Affordable Care Act's open-enrollment period won't end until February, but for consumers who wanted their coverage to begin on Jan. 1, the deadline was early last week. How many Americans took advantage? More than nearly anyone expected
About 6.4 million Americans have enrolled for individual insurance plans for 2015 through HealthCare.gov, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said on Tuesday. HealthCare.gov sells individual plans created by the national healthcare reform law in 36 states.
That last part is of particular interest, not just because these are the consumers who may be affected by the Supreme Court, but also because the 6.4 million tally doesn't include consumers who enrolled through state exchange marketplaces.
A year ago, those hoping to see the system succeed feared enrollments wouldn't reach 6 million by the end of March. This year, "Obamacare" easily surpassed 6 million by mid-December.
And that's not the only good news.
Sarah Kliff reported last week on allegations from ACA critics on the right that the system would encourage private-sector employers to scrap their own coverage plans. Those predictions aren't holding up well
One persistent Obamacare fear, for years now, has been that the new law would decimate the employer-sponsored insurance system. Why would companies waste money on buying coverage for their workers, the argument goes, when they could hand these people off to Obamacare's new exchanges? And some high profile companies like Walmart went through and did this, leading to much speculation about whether Obamacare would kill employer-sponsored coverage. New research from the Urban Institute suggests that, at least in year one, companies like Walmart were the exception rather than the norm: employer-sponsored coverage held steady through the Affordable Care Act's launch.
All of this, of course, comes against the backdrop of a sharp improvement in the uninsured rate
and a whole host of related reports, including
encouraging data on premiums
, customer satisfaction
rates, the lowest increase in health care spending in 50 years
, the growing number of insurers who want to participate
in exchange marketplaces, high enrollment totals with consumers who paid their premiums
, the efficacy of Medicaid expansion
, the efficacy of the medical-loss ratio
, and reduced medical errors
What's the bad news? Other than the looming Supreme Court fight, there is no bad news.