Observations on Healthcare Exchange Enrollment pt.2

With yesterday’s end (1) of the open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act healthcare exchanges, I thought it might be time to revisit some of the data we’ve collected on the enrollees.

One of the most frequently asked questions about the exchanges is “will uninsured and underinsured Americans sign up?” Before the exchanges launched, the Obama administration said (based on Congressional Budget Office figures) that if 7 million Americans signed up, the program would meet its targets. The CBO later revised its estimate down to 6 million (link).

As of March 27, the White House reported that 6 million people have enrolled in insurance plans through the Federal or State Health Insurance Marketplaces (link). Projecting forward through yesterday (March 31) and the final enrollees, one of the most up-to-date trackers of enrollment information says that the final total enrollment will be in the 7.1 million range. (link).

Looking at the last six months’ worth of data from our Reuters-Ipsos Poll, Americans from the exchange “target audience”  (2) are increasingly checking the health marketplaces out. According to our respondent’s self-reported visits to exchanges, the percentage of the target audience visiting the exchanges almost doubled between October 2013 and March 2014.


Focusing on self-reported enrollment in health coverage through the exchanges, our data shows increasing “success” in the ability of marketplace visitors to enroll in coverage. In October, only 1 in 4 (26%) visitors to the health exchanges enrolled in health coverage. In the last month, the percentage of visitors enrolling in coverage has climbed closer to half (44%). Taken with the previous statistic, this indicates that more people are visiting the exchanges and of those increased visitors, more are signing up for coverage.


And looking at the final goal of the Affordable Care Act, according to our polling the number of uninsured has come down over the last few months. Since the exchanges opened in October 2013, the percentage of our survey respondents who are currently uninsured has dropped 3.7 percentage points, from 13% in October to 9.3% in March 2014.


1 On March 25, the Obama administration announced that they would relax the March 31 deadline for enrolling in the exchange. Americans who begin an application before March 31 will have until mid-April to complete their enrollment.

 2 We’ve defined the exchanges target audience broadly, to pick-up any individuals who might be in the market for insurance. Our definition includes the uninsured, self-insured, and people with employment statuses that lend themselves to needing to purchase their own health insurance (self-employed, part-time employed, unemployed and students).