"What we are seeing is incredible momentum," said Peter Lee, director of Covered California, the nation's largest state insurance marketplace, which accounted for a third of all enrollments nationally in October. California—which enrolled about 31,000 people in health plans last month—nearly doubled that in the first two weeks of this month.Enrollments are moving at a faster clip than during October in these, despite the fact that some people are confused by the problems the federal site has had, not sure if the sites in their own states are working. Covered California's director said that the state has had to change its marketing to remind people that the state site wasn't the same as the federal site, and was working just fine.
Several other states, including Connecticut and Kentucky, are outpacing their enrollment estimates, even as states that depend on the federal website lag far behind. In Minnesota, enrollment in the second half of October ran at triple the rate of the first half, officials said. Washington state is also on track to easily exceed its October enrollment figure, officials said.
Unfortunately, so far enrollments on the federal site are still lagging. For example, just 2,991 people in Texas were able to complete enrollment in October, fewer than Kentucky, which has a sixth of Texas' population. But there's better news on the federal site front today, as well. HealthCare.gov is now working for 90 percent of users who have tried again to sign up. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services updated reporters Monday with the news that the site was functioning better, and that it had sent out 275,000 emails to people who had started to create accounts, but couldn't get through the process. CMS says that 90 percent of those people who tried again got all the way through the process. So far in November, 50,000 people have selected a plan in the federal site, up from 27,000 for the entire month of October.
Many people are likely still in window-shopping mode, and enrollments should pick up even more—both on the state sites and the federal site—in the last week or two before the December 15 deadline for insurance to be in place on January 1, and then again in February and March before the final deadline. The Massachusetts experience provides the best model for enrollment patterns, and in the first four months of enrollment just about one-fifth of the uninsured population enrolled.
The people will come. They're not freaked out over what most people perceive as inevitable: a problematic new government program. They're not abandoning support for the program in droves. They're not calling for an end to the program. They're patient enough to give it time to work, even if Republicans and the traditional media are not.