Nov. 28 (UPI) -- The number of people signing up for Healthcare plans in the Affordable Care Act exchanges following the fourth week of open enrollment is down 13 percent from 2017.
From Sunday, Nov. 18 to Saturday, Nov. 24, 500,437 consumers purchased plans on Healthcare.gov, a nearly 4,000 plan decline from the 504,181 people who selected plans last year, according to report on Wednesday from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The reported numbers took a sharp decline from last week when nearly 750,000 people signed up for plans.
Healthcare.gov sells plans in 39 states that don't have individual marketplaces.
So far, 2,424,913 people have signed up for plans, which lags behind last year's number of 2,781,260 -- a nearly 13 percent drop in enrollments. That decline may be due to the repeal of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act that required uninsured U.S. citizens to buy plans.
Before Congress struck down the individual mandate earlier this year, any adult without insurance was subject to a tax penalty of $695, or 2.5 percent of household income.
"As in past years, enrollment weeks are measured Sunday through Saturday," a spokesperson for CMS told UPI in an email. "Since this year's Open Enrollment began on a Thursday, the cumulative totals reported in this snapshot reflect one fewer day than last year. We cannot provide a direct comparison to last year's enrollment numbers."
With three weeks left before open enrollment expires, Florida leads all states with 622,664 signups on Healthcare.gov.
"The focus for this year, as it was for last year, is to provide a seamless Open Enrollment experience for HealthCare.gov consumers," the CMS spokesperson said. "There are likely many factors that affect enrollment levels. As is standard practice, we also closely monitor our outreach campaigns, customer service resources, and other work on behalf of consumers, making adjustments as needed throughout the Open Enrollment period."
To increase awareness, the CMS said it will send consumers emails, which the agency says is its most effective method, reminding them to enroll up to the deadline. It will also send text messages and call people to remind them to sign up prior to December 15.