White House Quiet on ACA Exchange Enrollment Numbers for Day One

Despite the high number of visits, the Obama administration offered few details about how many U.S. residents signed up for coverage for the day, The Hill's "Healthwatch" reports (Baker [1], "Healthwatch," The Hill, 10/1).

CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner told reporters that the agency would be "releasing enrollment stats regularly" but that initial enrollment figures were not ready to be released.

However, Tavenner said about 2.8 million people visited HealthCare.gov after the exchanges opened on Tuesday at midnight. She added that HHS also received more than 81,000 calls to its help center and conducted more than 61,000 Web chats (McKinney, Modern Healthcare, 10/1).

Meanwhile, enrollment and portal usage data was available for some states:

  • District of Columbia said 175 people initiated the enrollment process, with four enrolling in coverage (Washington Post, 10/1);
  • Connecticut reported that it had processed 167 applications by 4 p.m. EDT;
  • Kentucky touted more than 60,000 visitors and had more than 1,000 complete insurance applications by 5 p.m. EDT (Kaiser Health News, 10/1);
  • Maryland officials said the site had as many as 1,000 visitors per minute trying to create accounts (Washington Post, 10/1); and
  • New York reported two million visits in the first two hours of the launch (Baker [2], "Healthwatch," The Hill, 10/1).

Success of Exchanges Will Take Months To Determine

Although there was much attention paid to the first day of open enrollment, it will be months until the success of the exchanges and the overall effect of the ACA can be measured, according to experts, USA Today reports.

Observers note that there will be several more key dates to determine how well the exchanges are working (Kennedy, USA Today, 10/1). Among those is the Dec. 15 deadline for individuals and families to enroll in coverage to start receiving coverage by Jan. 1 (Modern Healthcare, 10/1).

Ron Pollack -- founding executive director of Families USA -- said, "The 181 days after October 1 are no less important than day one." He added that consumers should look at the first few months as "a marathon, not a sprint."

In the meantime, experts will be following enrollment in the exchanges closely to see how bringing more people into the marketplaces affects prices, health and the overall business environment. Kosali Simon -- a professor of public affairs at Indiana University -- said analysts also will watch small businesses to see if they shift workers to part-time employment to avoid paying for their insurance. Finally, observers will look to see if more states sign on to the Medicaid expansion (USA Today, 10/1).


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