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As week 6 of Open Enrollment comes to a close, The Centers of Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) announced that it saw 773,250 consumers enroll in health insurance during week 5 with a cumulative 3.1 million registrants so far. With less than 8 days left in Open Enrollment ’19, it is important to find the best health insurance options available and select a plan customized for your needs. 

During this time last year, CMS reported a cumulative total of 3.6 million enrollees. Here’s how 2019 Open Enrollment compares to 2018 overall: 

Week:  2019 enrollee count  2018 enrollee count 
Week 2: Nov 5th– 11th   804,556  876,788 
Week 3: Nov 12th– 18th   748,244  798,829 
Week 4: Nov 18th – 24th   500,437  504,181 
Week 5: Nov 25th – Dec 2nd   773,250  823,180  
  Total: 3,198,163  Total: 3,604,440  

With this year’s Open Enrollment coming to an end, a decrease in Obamacare enrollment is prevalent. Kaiser Health News (KHN) believes the cuts in federal funding to the health insurance marketplace has caused less consumers to sign up for coverage. KHN states “The federal government is spending $10 million this year on navigators who help individuals enroll in coverage. The government spent $36 million in 2017 and $63 million in 2016.” 

With less money being supplied in federal funding, navigators nationwide are trying to ensure consumers are signed up for health insurance. Here’s how the states are doing it: 

  • South Carolina: The Palmetto Project has become the state’s first nonprofit health insurance agency. Several navigators have come licensed insurance agents and receive a paid commission on their consumer sales. These navigators can also enroll individuals in Medicaid, Medicare and off-exchange plans. 
  • Texas: The Community Council in Dallas has raised money from private donations to help assist with enrollment in seven counties. With fewer navigators, residents of Texas are waiting up to 3 days for assistance on average. Throughout the state of Texas, 211 of 254 counties have no federally funded navigators. 
  • Wisconsin: Covering Wisconsin has raised millions of dollars from local United Way chapters and the state Medicaid agency. Wisconsin navigators will be able to provide individual and in-person assistance in 8 counties. The 20 over counties in Wisconsin will be assisted via telephone upon request.  
  • Kansas: The Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved has volunteers helping consumers with in-person and telephone support.  

Although several states are projecting decreases in enrollment, Colorado is reporting an increase. The Denver Channel states, “a total of 165,777 insurance plans were picked by people during this year’s enrollment period – Dec. 1, 2017 through Jan. 12, 2018 – which was up 3 percent from the same time period during last year’s enrollment.” 

Consumers are skeptical that the decrease in navigator funds will end up having a larger impact on enrollment. Caroline Gómez-Tom, navigator program manager of Covering Wisconsin, said the end of the so-called individual mandate penalty has been a “non-issue” among people seeking coverage. “Some folks mention it, but at the end of the day they still walk away with health coverage,” she said. “The ability to have coverage at affordable prices outweighs the penalty being gone because people still see health care insurance as important to have.” 

In most states, Open Enrollment began November 1st and runs through December 15th with coverage starting on January 1st, 2019.  In the states below, though, open enrollment and coverage dates vary:  

  • California – Oct. 15, 2018 to Jan. 15, 2019 
  • Colorado – Nov. 1, 2018 to Jan. 15, 2019 
  • D.C. – Nov. 1 ,2018 to Jan. 31, 2019 
  • Massachusetts – Nov. 1, 2018 to Jan. 23, 2019 
  • Minnesota – Nov. 1, 2018 to Jan. 13, 2019 
  • New York – Nov. 1, 2018 to Jan. 31, 2019 
  • Rhode Island – Nov. 1, 2018 to Jan. 31, 2019 
  • Minnesota – Nov. 1, 2018 to Jan. 13, 2019 
  • New York – Nov. 1, 2018 to Jan. 31, 2019 
  • Rhode Island – Nov. 1, 2018 to Jan. 31, 2019 

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