ObamaCare sign-ups surge in final weeks but lag last year's numbers

More people are signing up for ObamaCare plans as the open enrollment period comes to a close, but the overall numbers are down compared to last year.

From Dec. 2 to 8, the sixth week of open enrollment, 934,269 people signed up for coverage via healthcare.gov, the most in any one-week period this year. That compares with the 1,073,921 sign-ups from the same period in 2017.

Overall, enrollment is down 12 percent compared to last year.

The deadline to enroll is Saturday, with coverage starting Jan. 1.

It's typical for more people to sign up for coverage near the end of the open enrollment period.

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"As in past years, we have seen an uptick in the volume of consumers using HealthCare.gov and contacting our call center as we get closer to the December 15 deadline to select a plan for the upcoming year," a spokesperson said in a statement Tuesday.

But the rush to sign up has resulted in technical difficulties. Users on Monday reported that they were put into "waiting rooms" when trying to enroll at healthcare.gov.

While Monday's signups aren't included in the most recent enrollment numbers, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said it was the highest traffic day of this year's open enrollment.

This is the first year that consumers won't have to pay a penalty for not having insurance, which could lead to some deciding not to sign up for plans.

More people could also be dropping ObamaCare coverage in favor of plans expanded by the Trump administration that are cheaper but cover fewer services.

For the second year in a row the administration cut funding for local groups that help people enroll in coverage.