OE5

2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

This just in...

NEARLY 154,000 MARYLANDERS ENROLLED IN MARKETPLACE HEALTH COVERAGE FOR 2018

BALTIMORE (JAN. 4, 2018) – A total of 153,571 Marylanders enrolled in private health coverage during the 2018 open enrollment for Maryland Health Connection, the state-based health insurance marketplace.

In an open enrollment period that was about half as long as a year ago, average daily enrollment in qualified health plans was up 69 percent compared to the prior open enrollment. There were an average of 2,953 enrollments each day during the recent 52-day period, compared to 1,752 average daily enrollments during a 90-day enrollment period a year ago.

“We are thrilled by the robust turnout for 2018 coverage,” said Michele Eberle, executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, which administers Maryland Health Connection. “Our hats are off to our call center, consumer assisters and brokers who helped process roughly as many enrollments as last year during a much shorter open enrollment period. We believe the result will be better access and better health outcomes for Maryland families.”

This just in from HealthSourceRI:

Between November 1 and December 31, 2017, 33,021 individuals selected a plan through HealthSource RI. Though Open Enrollment has ended, customers who began, but did not complete, the enrollment process by December 31 will be able to finalize their 2018 enrollment process between January 1 and January 23. HealthSource RI is communicating directly with customers who are eligible for this opportunity. For this reason, final 2018 Open Enrollment figures will not be available until later in the month.

At HealthCare.Gov, around 66,000 stragglers/special case enrollments were added to the total between 12/16 - 12/23, which would translate into around 250 more people in Rhode Island, give or take. Of course, HC.gov also lost 145,000 enrollees due to people dropping their renewals/etc, but RI's exchange is structured a bit differently, with auto-renewals being added on day one, so most of those folks likely already dropped out before the 12/31 tally anyway. My guess is the final total will end up around 33.2K.

A couple of weeks ago I reported that MNsure, Minnesota's ACA exchange, had achieved 108.5K QHP selections, putting them within 1,500 enrollments of breaking their all-time record set last year.

Yesterday they issued the following press release:

Minnesotans benefiting from tax credits averaging over $7,000 per year
January 2, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn.—With just under two weeks left in the 2018 open enrollment period, MNsure is reminding Minnesota residents of important money-saving tax credits. The statewide household average for tax credits is around $7,000 per year. Approximately 62 percent of enrolled households are receiving tax credits.

“Minnesotans are saving an average of over $7,000 per year from tax credits when purchasing coverage through MNsure,” said Allison O’Toole, MNsure CEO. “This is real money for Minnesota families, and can help make the unaffordable, affordable.”

UPDATE 1/13/18: Colorado's deadline passed last night, so we're now down to 5 states + DC: 79.9 million people, or roughly 24.5% of the population.

UPDATE 1/15/18: Minnesota's deadline passed last night, so we're now down to 4 states + DC: 74.3 million people, or roughly 23% of the population. (Note: I had a miscalculation in an earlier version of this post)

UPDATE 1/16/18: Washington State's deadline passed last night, so now we're down to 3 states + DC: 69 million people or roughly 20.6% of the population.

UPDATE 1/19/18: I've added Puerto Rico & the U.S. Virgin Islands to the graphic below to note the SEP added for those who've moved to the mainland.

UPDATE 1/24/18: Massachusetts' deadline passed last night, so now we're down to California, New York and DC: 60 million people or roughly 18% of the population.

Happy New Year!

2018 Open Enrollment has officially (and unofficially) ended for 44 47 states.

HOWEVER...there are 6 3 other states, as well as the one in the District of Columbia, which have deadlines later than December 31st:

  • Colorado: Jan. 12th for coverage starting Feb. 1st.
  • Minnesota: Jan. 14th for coverage starting Feb. 1st.
  • Washington State: Jan. 15th for coverage starting Feb. 1st.
  • Massachusetts: Jan. 23rd for coverage starting Feb. 1st.
  • California: Jan. 31st (enroll by Jan. 15th for Feb. 1st coverage; enroll by Jan. 31st for Mar. 1st coverage)
  • District of Columbia: Jan. 31st (enroll by Jan. 15th for Feb. 1st coverage; enroll by Jan. 31st for Mar. 1st coverage)
  • New York: Jan. 31st (enroll by Jan. 15th for Feb. 1st coverage; enroll by Jan. 31st for Mar. 1st coverage)

Collectively, these states/DC represent over 85.5 million people, or 26% of the entire U.S. population.

via U.S. News & World Report:

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island's health insurance exchange says time is almost up to purchase coverage for 2018.

HealthSource RI says Sunday is the last day to choose and pay for a 2018 health plan through the exchange for residents who don't receive affordable health coverage through an employer.

HealthSource RI said Friday that more than 32,000 people have signed up and many new enrollees are 18 to 34 years old.

Last year, about 30,000 people enrolled.

HealthSource RI says it wants to remind people they need to purchase insurance for 2018 to avoid a tax penalty.

Rhode Island has now officially beaten last year's total of 29,456 QHP selections, though they're still way down from the 34,670 they achieved two years ago. Of course they still have until tomorrow (New Year's Eve deadline), so they might be able to come close. At a minimum, RI is now at least 8.6% ahead of last year.

Fire up the wayback machine, Sherman, and set your course for late 2014:

Default Re-Enrollment: Under current rules, consumers who do not take action during the open enrollment window are re-enrolled in the same plan they were in the previous year, even if that plan experienced significant premium increases. We are considering alternative options for re-enrollment, under which consumers who take no action might be defaulted into a lower cost plan rather than their current plan. We are considering allowing states to pursue these sorts of re-enrollment alternatives for coverage in 2016. The FFM is exploring such an approach for coverage in 2017.

Me, yesterday:

Now here's some bad news: The effectuated enrollee drop-off could be fierce this spring, for two important reasons.

...So what's gonna be different for 2018?

Well, first of all, 41 states, the official Open Enrollment deadline was on December 15th. That means that unlike prior years, it's too late for most of these folks to change their minds. They can either stick with the policy they signed up for (or were signed up for) or they can drop it, but that's it. Of course, anyone who was enrolled into a differentpolicy than the one they already had technically still has a 60-day window from 12/31 (until March 1st) to choose a different policy via a Special Enrollment Period, but otherwise their options are limited.

In other words, assuming several hundred thousand people drop their policies after 12/15 but before 1/31, instead of already being accounted for, they won't show up in the until the First Quarter report is released, likely sometime in April. This will make it look as though the "March drop-off" is more like perhaps ~18% instead of ~14%.

The good news, as touted by myself and pretty much every other ACA supporter last week, is that in spite of every type of sabotage, undermining, obstruction and confusion thrown at Obamacare over the past year by Donald Trump along with Congressional Republicans, the 5th Open Enrollment Period for the Affordable Care Act is actually going...pretty well, all things considered.

As I noted last Wednesday, over 8.8 million people enrolled in exchange policies via the federal exchange (which covers 39 states), and I've also confirmed that another 2.8 million have enrolled in the other 11 states (+DC) which operate their own full ACA exchange engines, for a total of more than 11.6 million QHP selections so far. In addition, Open Enrollment is still ongoing across nearly half the country; not only do 10 of the 12 state-based exchanges have extended deadlines (all the way out to the traditional 1/31/18 cut-off for three of them), but thanks to a Special Enrollment Period created by CMS in response to the various hurricanes which ravaged southern states a few months back, 8 more states still have until New Year's Eve for people to #GetCovered.

I've confirmed with the Massachusetts Health Connector that their official QHP selection tally stood at exactly 262,534 as of Christmas Day (12/25).

This puts them a mere 232 higher than they were 6 days earlier (12/19), which seemed a little odd to me given that 12/23 was MA's deadline for January 1st coverage; normally I'd expect a last-minute enrollment surge in the final days ahead of a big deadline, although it's not nearly as big a deal in the states which still have later deadlines for February or March coverage. On the other hand, Christmas Eve and Day were included here, and no one enrolls in health insurance on Christmas, of course. I wouldn't expect much this week either with New Year's coming up; there's usualy a 9-day Dead Zone from 12/24 - 1/01 anyway.

Breaking News from Your Health Idaho:

Despite Changes, Idahoans Flock to Health Insurance Exchange
2018 Enrollment Nears Record

BOISE, Idaho – Your Health Idaho announced today that nearly 102,000 Idahoans signed up for 2018 health insurance coverage on the exchange.

“This is a testament to Idaho’s model for operating an exchange. Despite the enormous uncertainty from Washington, combined with a shortened enrollment period, Your Health Idaho has been able to serve near record numbers of Idahoans,” said Pat Kelly, executive director of Your Health Idaho.

The enrollment numbers include new and returning customers. A significant difference for 2018 is the monthly premium pricing. Increased tax credits offset rising premiums to the extent that some Idahoans purchased plans for little to no monthly cost. Enrollments in these less expensive bronze plans increased by fifteen percentage points over the previous year. In total, 101,793 Idahoans enrolled in 2018 health coverage in just half the time of last year.

via the Providence Journal:

HealthSource RI enrollment far exceeds projections

Updated Dec 22, 2017 at 7:48 PM

More than 30,700 have already signed up, and hours at the walk-in and call centers have been extended in anticipation of a surge in enrollments leading up to the Dec. 31 deadline.

PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island has outpaced projected sign-ups for Obamacare next year with more than 30,700 residents now enrolled in health insurance through the state-based health insurance exchange.

HealthSource RI officials expected to see around 30,000 people in total enrolled by the end of December. With a little more than a week to go and the last days of open enrollment typically the busiest, numbers are sure to increase.

I know it's Christmas Eve, and I know it's not the biggest deal in the world, but this headline has been irritating the hell out of me for the past couple of days:

More than 4 in 5 enrolled in Obamacare are in Trump states

WASHINGTON — Americans in states that Donald Trump carried in his march to the White House account for more than 4 in 5 of those signed up for coverage under the health care law the president still wants to take down.

An Associated Press analysis of new figures from the government found that 7.3 million of the 8.8 million consumers signed up so far for next year come from states Trump won in the 2016 presidential election. The four states with the highest number of sign-ups — Florida, Texas, North Carolina and Georgia, accounting for nearly 3.9 million customers — were all Trump states.

Yes, this is true: ~7.3 million out of 8.8 million, or roughly 83%, of enrollees in the 39 states covered by HealthCare.Gov do indeed reside in states won by Donald Trump last year.

This may be a little anticlimactic, but AccessHealthCT has added another 7,600 enrollees in the past 5 days and still has two days to go...

Connecticut's Health Insurance Open Enrollment In Its Last Hours

Open enrollment on the state’s health care exchange, Access Health Connecticut, ends Friday at midnight. 

Connecticut residents had one week longer to sign up for an insurance plan than customers of the federal site, healthcare.gov.

As of Thursday morning, some 106,000 people had signed up for health care plans through Access Health CT.

Exchange CEO Jim Wadleigh called this the most challenging open enrollment period in the five years it’s been up and running, citing uncertainty over the future of the health care law, mixed messages from the Trump administration, and the shortest enrollment period ever, at just seven weeks. 

Just yesterday MNsure issued an unofficial tally of 106,000 QHP selections through 12/19. Yesterday also happened to be their December deadline for coverage starting in January, although their Open Enrollment Period still runs through January 14th.

Today they updated the number officially, including the final mid-season deadline:

Private health coverage enrollments through MNsure top 108,500 following first deadline

Total enrollments for 2018 now 12.5 percent ahead of where they were this time last year

ST. PAUL, Minn.—Following the first deadline for 2018 coverage, 108,540 Minnesotans have enrolled in private health coverage through MNsure. Yesterday, December 20, was the deadline for coverage beginning January 1. Minnesotans have until January 14 to sign up for coverage starting February 1, 2018.

Last year after the first deadline, MNsure had 96,540 enrollments, putting this year 12,000 enrollments ahead of last year at this time, or 12.5 percent.

Now that it appears that the full list of states and counties eligible for hurricane (or windstorm, in the case of Maine) Special Enrollment Periods (SEP) has settled down, Huffington Post reporter Jonathan Cohn asked an interesting question:

How if at all do you allow for the extensions in FL, TX, etc.? Or, to put another way, how many post-Dec 15 signups through https://t.co/bhGNSognZK do you expect?

— Jonathan Cohn (@CitizenCohn) December 20, 2017

The closest parallel to this particular situation I can think of was the #ACATaxTime SEP back in spring 2015. In that case, it was the first year that the ACA's (defunct as of this morning) Individual Mandate was being enforced, and a lot of people either never got the message about being required to #GetCovered or at least pretended that they didn't.

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