OE5

2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

This is a pretty minor update to my last Massachusetts post, but every enrollment counts: I've just received confirmation from the MA Health Connector that the Bay State has tallied up 262,302 plans selected or enrollments as of 12/19.

Their record to date was last year, when they had a total of 266,664 QHP selections through January 31st, 2017...and unlike most states, the deadline in MA is still a month away (residents have until 12/23 to enroll for January coverage and until 1/23/18 to enroll for February coverage).

This gives Massachusetts a full 5 weeks to add at least 4,400 more people to break that record. They've added 2,487 in the past 13 days; if they kept that pace they'd add 6,685 more between now and 1/23, so it's not unreasonable to think they can pull that off.

UPDATE: OK, it looks like the big HealthCare.Gov Final Surge Report is gonna be released sometime Thursday morning. Unfortunately, I have a can't-miss meeting in the morning as well, so there's a good chance that after sitting at my desk and constantly refreshing/checking email all day today, I may ironically end up missing the big reveal and not being able to post about it for an hour or so after it comes out.

UPDATE 12/21/17: As of 2:00pm, still nothing. Speculation now brewing that they may be hoping to bury the report at 4:59pm on the Friday before Christmas. Hoping to be proven wrong.

UPDATE 2:35pm: h/t to Adam Sacarny for the head's up:

Exchange open enrollment for 2018 coverage ended w/ approx 8.8M people enrolling in coverage. Great job to the @CMSGov team for the work you did to make this the smoothest experience for consumers to date. We take pride in providing great customer service.

Not an official enrollment update report but close enough (via email from MNsure):

December 20, 2017

Today is the last day for Minnesotans to sign up for health coverage beginning January 1

ST. PAUL, Minn.—Today is the last day for Minnesotans to sign up for health coverage beginning January 1, 2018. Over the last few days, and including the start of today, MNsure has been very busy. Yesterday, there were over 50,000 MNsure.org sessions and MNsure fielded over 5,000 calls. Today is off to a strong start as well, with nearly 21,000 MNsure.org sessions and over 2,200 calls.

To date, MNsure has enrolled over 106,000 Minnesotans in health coverage for 2018 and the average tax credit for Minnesota families is over $7,000 a year.

MNsure.org will remain available for consumers to shop until midnight and the contact center will remain open till midnight as well. Any calls on hold at midnight will be answered.

If Minnesotans do not apply for health coverage by midnight tonight, they can still get coverage beginning February 1, 2018 if they apply by January 14, 2018.

BUSY DAY: I was expecting the big Week 7 HC.gov Snapshot Report to come out this morning, but it hasn't been released yet. Instead, I have major updates from the three largest state-based exchanges: New York, California and now Washington State...and of the three, WA is the most impressive:

Washington Healthplanfinder Sign-Ups Jump Past 230,000, Shatter Last Year’s Record Pace

Final deadline for remaining customers to select 2018 health and dental coverage is Jan. 15

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange today announced that more than 230,000 customers selected health plans through Washington Healthplanfinder by the Dec. 15 deadline for coverage that begins on Jan. 1. Customers who have not yet applied for coverage still have until Jan. 15 to sign up for health and dental plans that begin on Feb. 1.

Covered California just announced their latest 2018 Open Enrollment Period numbers:

  • 220,000 new enrollees as of 12/15 (10% higher than last year)
  • Extended Jan. start deadline to 12/22 to handle high demand
  • Final deadline still same as last year (1/31/18)
  • ~1.2 million active or passive renewals
  • ~1.4 million total enrollees (renewals + new enrollments)

Assuming the 1.2 million figure is very close to the exact number, that makes the total number around 1.42 million QHP selections.

This brings CoveredCA within 9% of last year's total, and within 10% of their all-time total set a year earlier.

The official total as of 12/17 last year (with an extra 2 days) was 1,437,150 enrollments, about 1% higher. Given that CoveredCA is keeping to the same January 31st deadline as prior years, I'm pretty sure they'll end up very close to last year's final total when the dust settles.

UPDATE: Here's the full press release with a bunch of other info:

Covered California Looks Ahead to 2019 With Continued Strong Enrollment but National Uncertainty

THIS JUST IN via Dan Goldberg of Politico NY...

.@charles_gaba New NY numbers As of Dec. 15

2.9 million people in Medicaid
229,000 in qhp
364,000 enrolled in Child Health Plus
716,000 in Essential Plan

— Dan Goldberg (@DanCGoldberg) December 20, 2017

For context, as of 12/17/16, New York had enrolled 213,248 people in Qualified Health Plans (QHPs), putting them over 7% ahead of the same point last year...and unlike most states, New York's Open Enrollment Period is just as long as prior years, running all the way out to January 31st.

Put another way: New York's final enrollment tally last year was 242,880, meaning they're just 6% away from breaking that number with six weeks left to go. Their all-time record was set in OE2 with 409,000 QHP selections, but that's a meaningless comparison since the Essential Plan was added the following year, cannibalizing several hundred thousand enrollees anyway.

Oh for heaven's sake:

Mainers could get extended health care enrollment deadline due to devastating windstorm

In the wake of a windstorm that knocked out power to more than 400,000 Mainers, federal officials have agreed to give Mainers more time to enroll for health care under the Affordable Care Act.

U.S. Sen. Angus King sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in November requesting an extended deadline for Mainers who spent the better part of a week in the dark without internet or computer access. On Friday, King shared the agency’s reply, which said Mainers likely would qualify for a special enrollment period, extending their enrollment deadline.

“CMS recognizes that certain exceptional circumstances, including a natural disaster such as a severe windstorm, can prevent an individual from enrolling in coverage before an open enrollment period expires,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in her reply to King.

This Star Tribune article from Friday night puts Minnesota's ACA exchange total at 101.6K, only slightly higher than the 100K figure claimed in a KXRA article from over 3 weeks earlier. I'm not sure what happened there--either the KXRA article had the earlier number wrong, or MNsure only enrolled 1,600 people between 11/24 - 12/15, which I find difficult to believe.

Regardless, that's still another 1,600 or so added to the tally. They only need 16,028 more between now and January 14th, although the official ASPE report for OE4 put Minnesota's QHP number at just 109,974, so I'm not sure where the other 7,680 enrollees went. Huh.

MNsure optimistic about sign-ups as deadlines approach

MNsure continues to make progress on enrollment goals for 2018, officials said Friday, as the state’s health insurance exchange nears a deadline next week for January coverage.

OK. The Big News that everyone's waiting on this week regarding the 2018 Open Enrollment Period will come on Wednesday. That's when CMS will presumably post the Week 7 Snapshot Report for HealthCare.Gov, which covers 39 states. Wednesdays are also usually when Covered California, the largest state-based exchange, posts their updates as well.

That leaves the other 11 smaller state-based marketplaces (SBMs), of which only one, Colorado, has posted an update so far this week. As it happens, however, that was an impressive update: Colorado's total enrollments to date now stand at 149,000 people, about 7% ahead of last year. With CO added to the mix, I've now confirmed exactly 2,522,078 QHP selections across those 12 SBMs...which means the SBMs have already broken my personal final QHP projection of 2.5 million as of January 31st.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Connect for Health Colorado® Reports Increase in Healthcare Plan Selections for 2018; Open Enrollment Continues to January 12, 2018

DENVER —  More than 149,000 Coloradans selected healthcare coverage for 2018 through the state health insurance Marketplace through the December 17, 2017, a rate 7 percent ahead of signups one year ago, according to new data released today by Connect for Health Colorado®, mid-way through the Open Enrollment period for 2018 coverage.

“It’s not over, but the first half of this Open Enrollment period has set a solid pace,” said Connect for Health Colorado CEO Kevin Patterson.  “We are still enrolling Coloradans who buy their own health insurance through January 12.  I encourage everyone who does not have coverage yet to go to our site and see if they qualify for financial help. My message is, ‘Don’t leave money on the table.’ We know that too many Coloradans who qualify for help assume that they don’t.”

Yes, The Big Deadline, December 15th, has finally come and gone, and the half-length, batcrap insane 2018 Open Enrollment Period is over and done with, right?

Well...sort of.

It's true that the official deadline to #GetCovered for 2018 has passed for HealthCare.Gov (which operates 39 states), along with the state-based exchanges in Vermont and Idaho.

HOWEVER...there are 9 other state exchanges, as well as the one in the District of Columbia, which have deadlines later than December 15th:

Hmmm...a week ago AccessHealthCT reported just over 92,000 QHP selections as of December 8th, leaving 9,380 current exchange enrollees who still had to actively choose a new policy.

Today they've updated their enrollment tally to 98,376 (with 7,800 left to choose a plan)...but the thru date still reads December 8th.

I'm assuming whoever posted the update simply forgot to also update the "as of" date; presumably it's as of yesterday (December 14th), but I've put in a request for clarification.

UPDATE: Yup, they've since corrected the date to read 12/15/17 (basically, as of this morning I presume).

It's important to note that today is not the deadline for Connecticut residents to enroll; AccessHealthCT's deadline isn't until next Friday, December 22nd.

3:20pm: IMPORTANT UPDATE!!

According to Steve Valandra, spokesperson for the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner, the department has already come to a "done deal" agreement with Centene/Ambetter, the terms of which include:

  • The cease & desist order will be removed immediately, allowing Centene/Ambetter to continue selling plans on the individual market in Washington (including the ACA exchange)
  • Centene/Ambetter will immediately ameliorate all patient billing errors and other issues
  • Centene/Ambetter will be hit with a $1.5 million fine, but $1 million of this will be suspended if there are no further violations for at least 2 years
  • Centene/Ambetter must hire an external auditor, approved by the state insurance dept., to go over their books/etc.
  • The official notice of this agreement will be posted publicly on the Insurance Commissioner's website within 5 days.

Hat tip to Angela Marx for the tip!

Covered California Extends Enrollment Deadline as Consumer Interest Surges

  • The number of new consumers signing up for coverage remains ahead of last year’s pace, with more than 38,000 selecting a plan during the past three days.
  • Consumers now have until the end of Dec. 22 to sign up for health care coverage that will begin on Jan. 1.
  • Based on the first month’s enrollment, most consumers are paying less for coverage.
  • Covered California is working to distinguish the deadline for open enrollment in California — which ends Jan. 31 — from the shorter period for much of the nation.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — In response to a strong surge in demand, Covered California is giving consumers more time to sign up for health coverage that will begin on Jan. 1, 2018.

Many of you have heard the story of Laura Packard, a young woman who was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkin’s disease last spring, and who has since become a powerful advocate for the Affordable Care Act, writing op-ed pieces for US News & World Report. recording videos for NowThis and so forth.

She made news in September when President Trump blocked her on Twitter for daring to ask him not to kick millions of Americans off their healthcare policies...and again a few weeks ago when Nevada GOP Senator Dean Heller had her thrown out of a town hall he was speaking at for daring to ask him not to kill her.

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