Washington State: Effectuated QHP enrollment actually HIGHER now than in February or April?
2019 OPEN ENROLLMENT ENDS (most states)
Time: D H M S
In nearly every state, the official "enrollment number" used in the HHS Dept's ASPE reports has been the number of QHP selections completed...whether or not the enrollee actually pays their first monthly premium. Naturally, this led to a lot of fuss and bother about "How many have PAID???" last year (and this year as well, though to a lesser extent). In the end, the answer in 2014 turned out to be roughly 88%, with an additional 4% or so gradually dropping their policies over the course of the year and another 5% dropping theirs once the 2015 season opened up. In 2015, so far it looks like the 1st-month-paid percent is a bit higher, more like 90%.
Most news outlets mushed the two figures (non-payments and attrition) together, but I keep them separate, and Washington State is one reason why. Unlike most states, the Washington ACA exchange only reports their exchange policies after the first monthly premium has been paid. As a result, while their official numbers seemed a bit weak back in February (160,732 vs. their stated goal of 230,000), the silver lining is that it was also a "cleaner" figure; I didn't have to lop off 10% of the total, since WA "pre-purged" it for me.
This also means that their retention/attrition rate (ie, after the first month) is much easier to calculate...and based on this article, that's looking very good indeed right now:
Washington Healthplanfinder, the website run by the Washington Health Benefit Exchange where people can enroll for coverage, has enrolled 170,171 residents for health insurance plans this year. That's about the same as the number of Washingtonians who have coverage through the private market, 170,939, according to the Times.
Even so, Washington Healthplanfinder didn't meet its goal of enrolling at least 230,000 between November 2014 and February. Washington state was also just one of two states with a decrease in the number of people who enrolled through the state exchange from its first year to its second year.
Despite falling short of that enrollment goal, Washington managed to cut the uninsured rate in the state to 8.65 percent this year, from 14 percent in 2013, the Times reported.
In other words, with 170,171 people enrolled as of 6/30, WA actually has 70 more people in effectuated policies via their exchange today than they did in mid-April. How is this possible?
Again, remember that people can still enroll during the off-season for major life changes. During open enrollment, WA made up roughly 1.37% of the 11.688 million total. A similar proportion of the 7,500 off-season QHPs nationally should mean roughly 100 per day since then, or around 7,400 more to date; assuming a 90% payment rate, that should mean they've added roughly 6,600 for a total of around 176,700.
What's remarkable about WA's new figure is that most of the country has been losing enrollees a bit faster than gaining them--that's why the number currently effectuated as of 3/31/15 was 10.2 million instead of 11.7 million (QHP selections as of 2/22) or even 10.5 million (paid QHPs assuming a 90% rate). In Washington state, however, additions appear to have not just kept pace with "drops" but actually nudged slightly ahead, which is pretty impressive.