END OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD (42 states)

Time: D H M S

Washington State

This just in from the Washington Health Benefit Exchange...

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange today announced that nearly 18,000 new customers have used Washington Healthplanfinder to select 2018 health coverage through the first four weeks of open enrollment. The number of new customers who have signed up since Nov. 1 represents a 43 percent increase over the same period last year.

In addition to the 4,500 new sign-ups received on average each week, Washington Healthplanfinder has experienced an 18 percent increase in visits to the website, with more than 423,000 visitors reviewing their coverage options on www.wahealthplanfinder.org.

Additional data revealing increased consumer interest during open enrollment:

UPDATE: To clarify, just like with Covered California's "6,000 on day one" notice, Washington State's 4,550 new enrollees in 8 days don't include renewals/re-enrollments of current enrollees. Last year WA had 10,265 QHP selections total in the first 5 days and 21,665 in the first 12, so assuming a similar number of renewals each year, their total 8-day tally this year is likely around 13,000 + 4,550 = 17,500)

Washington Healthplanfinder Traffic, New Enrollment Surges In First Week

State’s online health insurance marketplace saw a 24 percent rise in site visits, more than 50 percent increase in new enrollees

The Washington HealthPlan Finder is the 2nd state exchange to release their initial enrollment data from opening day:

  • We had a very good first day of Open Enrollment
  • Over 32,000 unique visitors and 886,000 page views
  • At peak we had 3,534 concurrent users when on 11/1 last year our peak was of 2,699 concurrent users
  • 2,108 QHP plans selected by customers who either did not have a 2018 enrollment or switched away from the plan they were auto-enrolled into
  • Over 800 new downloads of the WAHBE mobile app
  • No significant system issue was encountered

In addition, unlike the federal exchange and most state exchanges, instead of waiting until after the initial wave of erollments are out of the way, Washington auto-renews existing enrollees right up front, but then changes their policies as people log in and switch to a different policy (or cancels the renewals if people don't pay up or inform them that they're not renewing):

I'm still missing final 2018 rate data for 6 states, but in the meantime I'm also doing some cleanup of some of the states I thought I already had final data for. Today both my home state of Michigan as well as Washington State released their official, approved increase tables.

Michigan's average is nearly identical to what it was before...it only dropped from 26.9%...to 26.8%.

However, I do give the Michigan Dept. of Insurance & Financial Services huge credit for making it incredibly easy for me to plug their data in. Look at that...they list all carriers, whether they sell on or off exchange, the exact average rate increases, and even include the number of affected enrollees, which is usually the hardest number for me to track down. Thanks, MI DIFS!!

I've spent the past two weeks posting about almost nothing besides the Graham-Cassidy debacle, so haven't had a chance to keep on top of the approved 2018 rate changes as I usually do. Fortunately, Louise Norris of healthinsurance.org has stayed on the rate hike job, and reports the final numbers out of Washington State:

2018 rates: 24% approved rate increase, due in large part to federal uncertainty — and higher backup rates will be implemented if CSR funding is cut mid-year

Insurers in Washington had to file rates and plans for 2018 by June 7, 2017. On June 8, Kreidler’s office published a summary of what had been filed (rate filings are available here, and that page will show final rate changes for the individual market once they’re approved), and publicized the filing details on June 19. The average proposed rate increase in Washington, before any subsidies are applied, was 22.3 percent.

h/t to Rebecca Stob for the heads up:

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Eleven health insurers filed 71 health plans for Washington state’s 2018 individual and family health insurance market, with an average proposed rate increase of 22.3 percent. No health insurer filed plans in two counties – Klickitat and Grays Harbor.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has been reaching out to insurers since they filed their plans on June 7 to see if one or more will reconsider offering plans in the bare counties.

“I’m very concerned by the proposed changes we’re seeing,” Kreidler said. “I know these numbers will be extremely upsetting to people who buy their own health insurance. They’re upsetting to me. We’re going to spend the next several months reviewing every assumption insurers have made to make sure their proposed increases are justified.

This just in from the Washington State insurance commissioner's office...

Eleven health insurers file for 2018 individual market in 37 counties, leaving two with no coverage
Kreidler: Trump administration’s actions fuel insurers’ uncertainty, harm consumers

Eleven health insurers have filed 71 plans for Washington state’s 2018 individual health insurance market:

  • Six insurers inside the Exchange, Washington Healthplanfinder.
  • Eight insurers outside the Exchange.
  • Two insurers selling both inside and outside the Exchange.
  • Currently, no insurer has filed plans in two counties – Klickitat and Grays Harbor.

Two insurers, Community Health Plan of Washington and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington Options, announced earlier this year that they will not participate in the 2018 individual health insurance market.

Yesterday New York was the first state exchange to report their final OE4 enrollment tally; it was a bit mixed, with QHP selections 29,000 (10.7%) lower than last year...but BHPs increasing by a whopping 286,000 (75.3%) year over year, for a net combined gain of over 256,000 people.

Today, the Washington State exchange chimes in, and their numbers are impressive: Over 225,000 QHP selections.

More than 225,000 people used Washington Healthplanfinder to select Qualified Health Plans – a 13% increase over last year’s total.

The ASPE report for OE3 showed WA's official 2016 tally at 200,691, so 225K would actually only be 12.1% higher, but the press release says it's 13%, so either they're basing it on a slightly lower unofficial 2016 tally, or "over 225K" actually means closer to 226,000.

From a last-minute press release:

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange is alerting customers that tomorrow, Jan. 31 is the deadline to sign up for 2017 health and dental coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder.

Individuals and families have until 11:59 p.m. tomorrow to select a plan that is good for the remainder of the year. Residents who fail to secure coverage by the deadline could be required to wait until the following year to sign up for health and dental coverage.

This isn't a particularly dramatic update given that CMS released their "mid-season" report yesterday, which already updated Washington's tally from 180K thru 12/20 to 194K as of 12/24...but an update's an update:

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange today announced that more than 200,000 customers have selected 2017 health and dental coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder since the open enrollment period began on Nov. 1 – an increase of almost 14 percent over the same point last year.

Hmmmm...the numbers look good, but that "...and dental" caveat is a bit troubling. I've asked for clarification; it's possible that the "dental" reference simply refers to the fact that some Qualified Health Plans also include dental coverage, as opposed to referring to standalone dental plans, which shouldn't be counted as QHPs.

A few days ago, the Washington State exchange posted their first official enrollment report: 161,381 QHP selections as of 12/13.

Today, as part of a deadline reminder press release (WA is among 3 states which are still letting people sign up for January coverage as late as midnight Friday), they gave a rough update:

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange today is warning customers without 2017 coverage that this Friday, Dec. 23 at 11:59 p.m. is the deadline to sign up for health and dental plans through Washington Healthplanfinder that begin on Jan. 1.

In yesterday's state-by-state roundup, I noted that there are 4 states where I didn't have any enrollment data whatsoever yet (ID, NY, VT & WA), plus only very limited numbers out of DC. Today, the Washington HealthPlanFinder scratched one of those off the list by providing the following update:

Since the start of open enrollment on Nov. 1, more than 160,000 individuals and families have already signed up for Qualified Health Plans (QHP) through Washington Healthplanfinder. The updated total reflects an increase of more than 20,000 QHP selections over the same point in the open enrollment period last year. In addition to 2017 QHP selections, more than 22,000 Washingtonians have signed up for Qualified Dental Plans (QDP) that are now offered through Washington Healthplanfinder.

The Washington HealthplanFinder just released a comprehensive report detailing their 2016 exchange enrollment status. It's important to keep in mind this has little to do with the ongoing 2017 open enrollment period we're in the middle of:

Total effectuated QHP enrollment as of September 2016: 166,098 people...or about 5% higher than they had in March, according to the official CMS report. This is unusual; almost every other state has seen a substantial drop-off in effectuated enrollment. The only other state which constantly increases effectuations during the off-season is Massachusetts, and that's mainly because they have special "ConnectorCare" policies which are available year-round to anyone. On the other hand, according to the WA exchange report, there has been a slight net drop since March...of around 4.5% (see 2nd slide below). Not sure what to make of that. Either way, however, the point is that attrition is unusually low compared to other states.

As noted before, I'm really trying to move onto the actual enrollment part of the 2017 open enrollment period, but I can't resist doing some more final cleanup of my Rate Hike project:

  • SOUTH CAROLINA: This is one of the 5 states which I still didn't have approved rate changes for. Today the RateReview.HC.gov site finally added in the final numbers for SC, so here's what it looks like:

Aetna was a bit tricky--the total enrollee number is actually 41,988. They dropped out of the ACA exchange but are sticking around the off-exchange market, so I had to figure out how many of those 42K are on vs. off-exchange. The answer is in this article which notes:

More than 220,000 South Carolinians rely on the federal health care law for insurance. This year, only 8,000 of them are covered by Aetna plans.

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