- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 28, 2017

Final Obamacare enrollment on HealthCare.gov slipped in recent days, after a share of people canceled plans at the last minute, the Trump administration said Thursday.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services now says about 8.7 million people booked coverage on the federal website through Saturday, a drop from the roughly 8.8 million signups it reported last week, after the enrollment period officially closed on Dec. 15.

The tally fell short of the 9.2 million who used HealthCare.gov last year, though Obamacare supporters cheered the numbers as a strong showing in the face of President Trump’s antipathy toward the law.

Officials said the updated total for 2018 reflects the share of people who either canceled their plan selections at the last minute or dropped coverage after they were automatically enrolled for 2018.

CMS didn’t break down the data into further detail.

For the first time, existing customers who failed to select a plan were auto-enrolled in coverage after the deadline to pick one on their own, so some customers may have decided their new plan was unaffordable or didn’t fit their needs.

In raw numbers, CMS reported 8,822,329 plan selections through the close of open enrollment on Dec. 15 — plus auto-enrollments — compared to 8,743,642 plan selections as of Dec. 23.

Eleven states, plus D.C., run their own Obamacare exchanges and will report signup data in the coming days and weeks.

The program needs an influx of young and healthy customers to place it on firmer economic footing, as insurers confront a sicker-than-expected customer base and raise rates or drop out altogether.

Last year, the program reached 12.2 million signups nationwide, though analysts say it will be tough to surpass that number for 2018.

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