END OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD (42 states)

Time: D H M S

Wisconsin

Back in August, I posted a rough analysis of the requested rate increase situation for Wisconsin's individual market carriers. However, I cautioned at the time that I was missing the enrollment market share numbers for four of the carriers (Aspirus, Compcare, Wisconsin Physician Service and WPS), and therefore had to guess at how the rate hikes for those carriers would impact the statewide average. I estimated the numbers assuming CSR payments are made at 21.7%, and from that assumed the impact of CSR reimbursements not being made would be around 7.8 additional points being tacked onto the average.

A couple of weeks ago, the state insurance commissioner announced the approved rate increases. The good news is that I overestimated on the "CSRs paid" front. The bad news is that I underestimated on the "CSRs not paid" front: It's actually 20% and 36% respectively:

The good news is that Wisconsin has one of the most robust and competitive exchange markets in the country. The bad news is that, contrary to popular opinion, "competition" doesn't by itself magically lower prices, at least not by enough. Both Anthem and Molina are leaving the ACA exchange (although Anthem is technically sticking around off-exchange), but there's over a dozen other carriers still duking it out.

According to the 11 carriers I have enrollment numbers for, the statewide average rate increase being requested is around 20.8% assuming CSR payments are made; using the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates, that translates into roughly 32.4% assuming they aren't made. Unfortunately, I can't seem to dig up the enrollment data for four carriers: Aspirus, Compcare, Wisconsin Physician Service and WPS (I think the last two are actually subsidiaries fo the same company). Wisconsin's total individual market should be roughly 280,000 people, and when you add up all the numbers I have (including Anthem/Molina) it only comes to around 180,000, so there appear to be roughly 100,000 enrollees missing among those 4 carriers, or over 35%.

As I noted when I crunched the numbers for Texas, it's actually easier to figure out how many people would lose coverage if the ACA is repealed in non-expansion states because you can't rip away healthcare coverage from someone who you never provided it to in the first place.

My standard methodology applies:

I originally estimated the requested average rate hike for Wisconsin indy market carriers back in August. I came up with a weighted average of around 20%...but this was questionable due to my not being able to come up with the actual enrollment figures for 4 of the 15 carriers in the state (note: several of these have more than one entry for different types of plans):

A couple of days ago, the Wisconsin Insurance Dept. announced the approved rate increases. Unfortunately, the articles about it don't provide hard numbers for either the rate change or enrollment figures for each carrier either, but they did provide the overall weighted average increase, which is really what I'm trying to calculate anyway, so there you go:

More last-minute carrier scrambling ahead of the OE4 kickoff...

Arise Health Plan, a subsidiary of WPS Health Solutions, said Thursday that it will not sell health plans on the marketplaces set up through the Affordable Care Act next year, becoming the latest company to abandon the market.

Arise and WPS Health Insurance also will sell only high-deductible health plans for individuals and their families off the marketplace, and those plans will be available only in a limited number of counties.

...For now, the marketplace for Milwaukee County next year will have four companies offering health plans: Molina Healthcare; Network Health Plan, owned by Ascension Wisconsin and Froedtert Health; Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative; and Children’s Community Health Plan.

Waukesha County tentatively will have those companies as well as Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Wisconsin and Dean Health Plan.

...Arise Health Plan has a relatively small share of the market in southeastern Wisconsin.

As I noted Monday morning, I believe that August 1st was the deadline for every state to submit their 2017 rate filings, meaning that the 14 states missing from my Requested Rate Hike Project are finally available to be plugged into the spreadsheet. I'll also be going back through the other states I've been tracking since as early as April to see which ones require updates due to carriers dropping out, joining in or resubmitting their rate requests.

Wisconsin's total individual market was around 260,000 people in 2014 and is likely up to around 300,000 today (not including grandfathered/transitional enrollees), with about 224,000 enrolled on ACA exchange policies as of March 2016, plus an unknown number off-exchange. That means that the table below is likely missing around 1/3 of the total ACA-compliant market.

A source who doesn't wish to be named attended the annual meeting of the Wisconsin Common Ground Co-Op the other day (Common Ground is one of the 11 Co-Ops which survived last year's Risk Corridor Massacre), and forwarded a few tidbits of info:

  • CG is closely watching the class action lawsuit filed by the now-defunct Oregon Co-Op against the federal government over the lost risk corridor payments, as CG would benefit from a win in the case.
  • CG is open to considering outside investment funding now that CMS is allowing the Co-Ops to pursue it, but isn't scrambling to seek it out just yet. They did note that Wisconsin has a law applying to the Co-Op which requires that all board members use it for their own insurance (which makes total sense, actually). Since any outside investor would likely be on the board, they'd also have to utilize CG coverage.
  • CG is requesting 12.5% weighted average rate hikes for 2017, which is actually at the lower end of the spectrum nationally so far this year. They're also adding a new Silver plan.
  • I was also provided with an image of their overall financials for 2015 (see below). They didn't have much to say about this year since it's only May but seemed comfortable with how things are proceeding so far, and said their MLR (medical loss ratio) is "dropping" although from what to what I have no idea.

This is really just a summary of my last 4 posts. I've combed through the SERFF databases for every state which uses the system for rate filings, and while very few have the actual 2017 rate filing requests listed yet, at least 4 of them have official individual market exit letters submitted for 2017 from Jane Rouse, the Product Compliance Process Owner for Humana Insurance Co:

This list may grow as additional state filing data and/or press releases come out from Humana, but assuming these are the only 4 states Humana is bailing on, the news isn't quite as bad as it appears at first.

To keep things in perspective, add the 4 numbers above up and it's 25,512 people across 4 states with a combined population of 21.8 million. Put another way, these 25.5K people represent only 2.9% of the 875,700 people Humana currently has enrolled in individual policies (both on & off exchange) nationally.

To be clear, I'm not saying this is a good development; when you combine it with the recent UnitedHealthcare Dropout Odometer it's more of a drip-drip-drip sort of thing. But it isn't disasterous for the exchanges either (at least not yet).

UPDATE: I've been informed by a reliable source that Humana is also dropping out of the individual market in Nevada next year, although I don't have any actual enrollment data there. Humana is not currently participating on the Nevada exchange, however, so any dropped enrollments would be OFF-exchange only. In fact, I'm pretty sure that the only individual market enrollees Humana has in Nevada are grandfathered policies anyway, so the numbers should be pretty nominal there.

If you're one of the ACA-created CO-OPs which isn't going out of business, I have to imagine that it's a tough enough job convincing current enrollees to stick with you right now, much less convincing new customers to give you a shot. I mean, look at it from the perspective of someone needing coverage; they're probably gonna be jumpy about signing up with one of the CO-OPs, fearing that they might be shut down just a few weeks/months later, right?

Well, for Common Ground, the Wisconsin CO-OP, which isn't going out of business and which is accepting both renewals as well as new customers right now, this can't be helping matters (from an email just sent to me today):

Copy of email sent by Common Ground Healthcare Co-op (Wisconsin).... 

November 3, 2015

If you called the Marketplace and were told that our plans are not available for 2016, you were given INCORRECT information.

I've held off posting an estimate of the weighted average rate increase for the final state on my list, Wisconsin, until now because there's a major gap in the data which likely makes my estimate off by quite a bit.

However, given that open enrollment is coming up a week from today, "window shopping" on HealthCare.gov is (supposedly) going live at any minute and the fact that with 49 other states (+DC) already included, I finally decided to go ahead and post this, along with a major caveat warning.

As y ou can see from the table below, there are two issues here. The first is a minor one: I have no idea what the rate change request from the Common Ground CO-OP is, except that it's under 10%. I also don't know exactly what Common Ground's enrollment figure is, other than "between 30,000-40,000" according to this article from February.

I admit that given the carnage of the past couple of weeks, I'm almost afraid to post this entry...but I had to write something positive about the CO-OP situation.

With the ACA-created CO-OPs seemingly dropping like flies due to the #RiskCorridorMassacre, I thought this would be a good time to flip things around and look at which CO-OPs are doing well (or at least not badly).

This isn't much, but it'll do for now:

Wisconsin's insurance department says it has no intention of shutting down its #ACA co-op, which appears it will remain solvent next year.

— Bob Herman (@MHbherman) October 22, 2015

@charles_gaba and at this point, other than Maine, it's difficult to expect many others will last beyond risk corridors.

— Bob Herman (@MHbherman) October 22, 2015

I'm kicking myself for not writing up a full post on this issue, since it's the issue which most directly connects today's election to ACASignups-specific issues, but thankfully, Sam Stein and Jeffrey Young have done a fantastic job anyway. The key takeaway is this:

There are two threads of conventional wisdom heading into Tuesday's midterm election. The first is that the election doesn't much matter. Regardless which party controls the Senate, President Barack Obama will still occupy the White House, which means gridlock will remain, if not escalate. The second is that, when it comes to Obamacare, the status quo will remain in place for at least the next two years. Senate Republicans may push for repeal votes. But Obama will veto them. Smaller reforms may pass. But the law will mostly remain intact.

Whoops...found even more slightly-outdated ACA-related articles worth noting...

OREGON: Cover Oregon officials hope to repair broken state health insurance exchange for 2016

For those who assume Cover Oregon will go away when the federal government takes overthe state exchange's job of enrolling people in health coverage, think again.

Even as Oregon works on hooking up to the federal website by November, some Cover Oregon board members hope the engagement with Uncle Sam will be only a one-year affair.

I found one quote in particular to be a bit of an eyebrow-raiser:

But the idea is controversial on both sides of the political aisle in Salem.

"Hell, no," says Sen. Brian Boquist, R-Dallas. He thinks Oregon should leave the job to the federal exchange and Cover Oregon as a stand-alone agency should go away. "Cover Oregon, the whole structure is bad from beginning to end. I don't trust the federal government. But I do trust the federal government more than I do the state of Oregon."

Contributor deaconblues provides a very nice catch today: A story about Wisconsin's enrollment figures which gives all the tools necessary to calculate the state's total and paid QHP enrollments as well as the off-exchange total to boot...all without actually providing any of those numbers, which is kind of a neat trick!

Let's break it down:

Wisconsin’s Office of the Commissioner of Insurance has released information concerning the number of people that have acquired health insurance coverage as of June 1 of this year. The state’s Governor, Scott Walker, intends to cut the number of uninsured people throughout Wisconsin in half within the foreseeable future. According to state officials, the number of uninsured people in the state as of March of this year stood at 556,000.

Some 166,000 Wisconsin residents have purchased health insurance over the past several months, according to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner. Of these, some 134,000 people purchased coverage from the state’s health insurance exchange.

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