Obamacare gets nearly 1.5 million new enrollees in first 11 days

Obamacare enrollment has surged this year, with nearly 500,000 more plan enrollments in the first two weeks of enrollment compared to the same period last year. The increase occurred despite gloomy predictions by health-care analysts and repeated efforts by the Trump administration to undermine and dismantle the program.
By Lucas Rowe | Nov 17, 2017
Nearly 1.5 million more Americans have signed up for Obamacare since the start of open-enrollment season 11 days ago, according to data released by the Trump administration. This is an increase of almost 500,000 over the number of signups that the program had at the same time last year.

Open enrollment began November 1 and saw 601,462 signups by the end of the first week, followed by 876,788 more signups in the second week. Enrollment ends December 15, which is half as much time as consumers had last year.

This year's increased enrollments include a boost in new enrollees. Whereas 246,433 Americans signed up for the very first time last year, Obamacare has gotten 345,719 new first-time enrollees in its first two weeks this year.

The increased enrollment took place despite Trump's cutbacks in advertising and outreach and his own assertions that the health-care program is "dead." It surpassed the predictions of many health-care analysts who had expected decreased enrollment due to Trump's actions to undercut the program along with growing uncertainty about the exchange markets and rising costs of plan premiums.

But Trump's actions may have actually spurred more people to enroll, some experts suggest. The torrent of news coverage of Obamacare controversies, combined with Trump administration actions to increase participation by insurance brokers, may have resulted in Obamacare getting much more publicity than Trump intended.

"As P.T. Barnum would say, as long as my name is in the papers and it's spelled correctly, it's all good," said Michael Marchand, chief marketing officer for Washington state's Obamacare marketplace, which saw its website traffic increase by 24 percent during the first week of enrollment. "I think there's some truth to that."

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