Open enrollment ends Dec. 15 During the first six weeks of the enrollment period, renewal activity was stronger than new signups. (Image: CMS)

HealthCare.gov may end up with about as many consumer users in 2019 as it has had in 2018, thanks to a big rush for coverage during the last week of the 2019 open enrollment period.

HealthCare.gov started the 2019 open enrollment period Nov. 1 and ended it Saturday.

During the first six weeks of that seven-week period, 4.1 million people signed up for coverage. The number of signups was about 12 percent lower than it was during the first six weeks of the enrollment period for 2018 coverage.

Related: New ‘super broker’ system cuts HealthCare.gov out of the ACA signup process

But the number of people who signed up for coverage during the seventh week of the 2019 enrollment period climbed to 4.3 million, up 4 percent from the number who signed up during the seventh week of the 2018 enrollment period, according to a new batch of signup data from HealthCare.gov’s managers.

The seventh-week surge helped bring the signup total for the entire 2019 enrollment period to 8.5 million. The surge narrowed the signup gap between the 2018 enrollment period and the 2019 enrollment period to about 4.2 percent.

During the first six weeks of the enrollment period, renewal activity for people who already have individual major medical coverage purchased through HealthCare.gov was stronger than efforts to attract consumers new to the HealthCare.gov system.

That pattern held in the seventh week, too.

The number of households renewing coverage increased 8.8 percent, to 3.4 million.

The number of households signing up for new coverage fell 9.5 percent, to 918,648.

Renewal activity has a bigger effect on total signup activity than new-consumer activity, because renewal activity accounts for about 80 percent of HealthCare.gov signups.

The drafters of the Affordable Care Act created the ACA public exchange system in an effort to create web-based shopping malls for health insurance from private carriers.

HealthCare.gov provides ACA public exchange enrollment and account management services for residents of 39 states.

The District of Columbia and 11 states have their own ACA exchange plan enrollment systems and report their enrollment figures separately.

ACASignups.net, a blog that covers ACA public exchange signup activity, is reporting that the locally run public exchange programs have reported at least 2.7 million exchange plan signups through Dec. 15, with all data missing from Idaho and Vermont, and at least some data missing from California, Connecticut, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia.

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