2021 Open Enrollment in Review – HealthSherpa Blog

2021 Open Enrollment in Review

CMS recently released a report on Enhanced Direct Enrollment (EDE) trends that provides an insightful overview of the power of EDE. We’re also excited to share a recap of how the 2021 Open Enrollment went on HealthSherpa. Below you’ll find the OE 2021 numbers from HealthSherpa, the key takeaways and trends from CMS’ report, and a few thoughts on the future of EDE.

At a glance: HealthSherpa accounted for 25% of all active Healthcare.gov enrollments, 90% of all EDE enrollments, and helped 1.9 million people find affordable coverage!

The Numbers on HealthSherpa

Key metrics, Nov 1 – Dec 15, 2020 (FFM only)

In OE 2021, we were able to help over 1.9 million people find quality, affordable health coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace. That’s a 58% increase over the 2020 Open Enrollment Period, and represents 22% of the 8.3 million people who enrolled through the Marketplace as a whole (this includes both active and passive enrollments).


  • HealthSherpa QHP enrollment volume: up 58% (1,229,965 policies for OE 2021 vs 784,811 policies for OE 2020)


Costs & subsidies

  • Median gross premium: down 1% ($740.67 for OEP 2021 vs $746.44 for OEP 2020)
  • Median net premium: up 12% ($54.74 for OEP 2021 vs $48.71 for OEP 2020)
  • Median subsidy: down 1% ($621 for OEP 2021 vs $627 for OEP 2020)
  • Percentage of enrollees claiming a subsidy: up 2% (94.7% in OEP 2021 vs 93.3% in OEP 2020)


Cost sharing

  • Metal tier breakdown: 0.25% Platinum / 3.51% Gold / 66.07% Silver / 2.89% Bronze / 27.1% Expanded Bronze



  • Average applicants per policy: stable (1.50 for OEP 2021 vs 1.52 for OEP 2020)
  • Sex of primary applicant: 54.5% female / 45.5% Male
  • Median age: 47
  • Age distribution: 2.38% under 21 / 14.58% 21-29 / 17.03% 30-39 / 21.72% 40-49 / 28.45% 50-59 / 15.84% 59+


The EDE Trends 

Key takeaways from CMS’ recent report on Healthcare.gov numbers, Nov 1 – Dec 15, 2020

Each year, the use of the EDE pathway is increasing

HealthSherpa was the first approved EDE partner – in OEP 2019 only 1 other entity was approved to use EDE. Now there are 10 primary entities and 33 upstream issuers. HealthSherpa provides the EDE pathway for 27 of the 33 upstream issuers. HealthSherpa is the industry leader in implementing EDE with 3 OEP’s worth of experience – this year alone we accounted for more than 90% of all EDE applications submitted to Healthcare.gov.

EDE drives new consumer plan selection increases

CMS reports that new consumer plan selections in OEP 2021 increased by 87%. EDE has the power to do many things and one of the most important is its ability to expand membership. The streamlined and user-friendly consumer experience creates an easier enrollment process. HealthSherpa also offers an agent CRM, which allows agents to more efficiently enroll their clients in plans. 

EDE helps returning consumers increase active plan selections

According to the report, the number of active plan selection for returning consumers increased by 38% for the DE channel, which is composed of the EDE pathway and the Classic DE pathway. They also noted that agents and brokers are an increasingly important channel for enrollments (especially active renewals). HealthSherpa is the #1 agent and broker platform – we have 46,000 unique agent accounts. We have 40% market share of agents, and this number is growing each year. Agents are drawn to HealthSherpa for the workflow tools and EDE functionality that allows them to help their clients. 

EDE shows more stable plan selection patterns

CMS reports show that Healthcare.gov has a strong first week, with plan selection dropping until after Thanksgiving. They finish out with a large increase in plan selections surrounding the deadline days. Interestingly, EDE pathways show a stable level of plan selections with a slight surge near the deadline. 

The State of EDE

Looking forward, the future appears very bright for EDE. CMS cites outstanding results thus far for the program – it’s hard to overstate what a success EDE has been and how much of an impact it has had on helping people get high quality, affordable health coverage.

HealthSherpa strives to continue innovating and implementing the best technology possible for our consumers, agents and issuer partners. EDE is a tool that can be leveraged to impact renewals, new membership, effectuation and post enrollment follow ups. We’re excited to continue leading the charge in this area to connect as many people as possible to coverage through the Affordable Care Act. 

Interested in learning more about utilizing EDE within your organization? Please reach out to ede@healthsherpa.com, we’d love to connect with you and talk about what’s possible for issuers in an EDE world.