Colorado

This just in via Connect for Health Colorado:

DENVER — Nearly 167,000 Coloradans signed up for a health insurance plan through the state’s official Marketplace by the end of the Open Enrollment period, according to preliminary data released today by Connect for Health Colorado.

Among the 2020 plan selections, about 20 percent are by customers who are new to Connect for Health Colorado and 80 percent are returning customers. 

“This has been another successful Open Enrollment period,” said Chief Executive Officer Kevin Patterson. “Now the work continues to increase access, affordability and choice for residents. We are fully engaged with partners at the state and in the legislature to advise and help implement innovative approaches to lower the cost of health care and increase choice.”

Find help at an event near you

Located across Colorado, these events provide educational and enrollment information about health insurance coverage, the application process and financial help through Connect for Health Colorado. While you can’t complete enrollment at all of these events, they are a great opportunity to talk with our network of trusted, certified experts and to schedule appointments.

January 15 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm

  • Pueblo Get Covered Walk-in and Enroll
  • Pueblo Get Covered is hosting an open enrollment on Wed, Jan 15 from 8 am - 5 pm at 230 N Union Ave. Pueblo, CO 81003. For more information call 719-583-6611.   Jan 15 is the last day of open enrollment!

January 15 @ 8:00 am - 8:00 pm

via Connect for Health Colorado:

More than 153,000 Coloradans Enrolled in Health Insurance So Far; Less than Four Weeks Remain to Enroll for 2020 Coverage

DENVER — More than 153,000 Coloradans signed up for a health insurance plan through Connect for Health Colorado’s Marketplace by Dec. 18, 2019. Approximately 68 percent of applicants qualify for financial help to lower monthly premium costs.

“I am encouraged by the pace of sign-ups so far,” said Connect for Health Colorado® CEO Kevin Patterson.  “However, it’s not too late to get covered for 2020. I urge you to take advantage of the final deadline and all the support we offer by visiting our site, giving us a call, or finding local help in your community.”

The Open Enrollment period in Colorado ends Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. Residents who sign up for a health insurance plan by the deadline will receive a Feb. 1, 2020 coverage start date.

via Connect for Health Colorado:

Connect for Health Colorado Extends Enrollment Deadline for January Coverage to Dec. 18, 2019 

DENVER –  To help as many people as possible get Jan. 1, 2020 coverage, Connect for Health Colorado is pleased to announce that the deadline to get coverage on Jan. 1 has been extended. Coloradans have until 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday Dec. 18, 2019 to sign up for a health insurance plan that starts on Jan. 1, 2020.

To sign up for coverage that begins Jan. 1, 2020, Coloradans must take the following steps: 

1. Complete an application and select a health insurance plan online at ConnectforHealthCO.com, over the phone at 855-752-6749, or by working with a certified enrollment expert by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 18.

Connect for Health Colorado reported 24,000 QHP selections as of 11/15. Now they're out with another update:

Connect for Health Colorado® Urges Residents to Shop by December 15 for January Coverage

Nearly 42,000 Coloradans signed up for a health insurance plan through Connect for Health Colorado’s Marketplace between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30. Approximately 70 percent of applicants qualify for financial help in the first month of the Open Enrollment period. Residents must sign up for a plan by Dec. 15, 2019 to have coverage in place by Jan. 1, 2020, however, Open Enrollment runs through Jan. 15, 2020. 

Coloradans can sign up for a Marketplace plan online, over the phone or in person with a certified enrollment expert. Connect for Health Colorado has 23 enrollment centers to provide residents with walk-in help at different times throughout the week. Residents can also schedule an appointment. 

Back in late October, a few days before the launch of the 2020 Open Enrollment Period, I issued a warning to ACA exchange enrollees who may have been benefiting from the "Silver Loading" premium pricing strategy for in 2018 and/or 2019 that the enhanced subsidies they've been taking advantage of for two years are likely going to be reversed for 2020:

What happens next year if the benchmark Silver plan drops by 4%...but the Bronze, Gold, and the OTHER Silver plans stay flat?

Connect for Health Colorado® Reports Coloradans are Shopping Around for 2020 Coverage

DENVER – Nearly 24,000 Coloradans have signed up for a health insurance plan through Connect for Health Colorado’s Marketplace between Nov. 1 and Nov. 15. for coverage starting Jan. 1, 2020.

More Coloradans buying their own health insurance are seeing lower premiums, largely due to the reinsurance program that passed this year. Reinsurance helps insurers with their most costly claims. However, given the complexities of how financial help available through the Marketplace is calculated, current customers should shop around to reduce monthly costs.

Heh. This is a pretty good layman-speak for #ReverseSilverLoading.

On average, those who qualify to automatically renew their plan would lower their premiums by 15 percent (compared to 2019) if they switch to the lowest-cost plan in their current level of coverage.

via Connect for Health Colorado:

Open Enrollment for 2020 Coverage Brings Savings for Coloradans Who Actively Shop

DENVER – The Open Enrollment period to purchase health insurance for 2020 kicks off Friday, Nov. 1, with rates lower across the board for the first time since the Marketplace opened for business in 2013. And while rates are lower, Connect for Health Colorado strongly encourages all customers to compare their plan options before making a selection.

With the complexities of how the tax credit is calculated, customers who qualify for financial help will likely see a decrease in the dollar amount of assistance. It’s important to know that customers who qualify for financial help can reduce premiums an average of eight to 19 percent by switching to the lowest-cost plan available in their current coverage level. 

Back in July, the Colorado Insurance Dept. announced the preliminary 2020 avg. premium rate changes for the individual and small group markets, including making the important point that their then-pending Section 1332 Reinsurance Waiver program, if approved, would cut down on unsubsidized premiums by over 18% on average (18.2%, to be precise, according to the CO DOI, although my own analysis based on the preliminary rate filings brought it in at a 17.5% reduction).

Today they announced the final, approved 2020 rate changes...and the average premium is expected to drop even lower yet:

Gov. Polis: 2020 ACA Premiums Going Down by an Average of 20.2%

I honestly haven't written or read much about this since I wrote about it in April, but the Colorado government is making good on its promise to put forward a serious Public Option proposal.

While Washington is technically the first state to create their own state-based Public Option, the reality is that while I do give them plenty of credit for getting the ball rolling (their PO is scheduled to go into effect starting in January 2021), what they're doing isn't quite what most people have in mind when they think of a PO.

Washington is essentially outsourcing administration of a healthcare plan to an existing carrier, with the state government negotiating the provider network and reimbursement rate levels...which have been set to 160% of Medicare rates. There's nothing wrong with this, and it's an important move forward...but it's only expected to shave perhaps 5-10% at most off of costs because any negotiated rate settings are partly cancelled out by the cost of the private carrier doing the administration.

via Becker's Hospital Review:

Cigna extended its individual healthcare exchange products for the 2020 plan year, the insurer said Sept. 18.

For 2020, individuals can purchase individual health plans in 19 markets across 10 states. The expansions will take place in counties in Kansas, South Florida, Utah, Tennessee and Virginia. The other states include Arizona, Colorado, Illinois and North Carolina.

The plans will be available for purchase on the individual marketplace during the 2020 open enrollment period, which begins Nov. 1. Plans will take effect Jan. 1.

via Bruce Japsen of Forbes:

MLR rebate payments for 2018 are being sent out to enrollees even as I type this. The data for 2018 MLR rebates won't be officially posted for another month or so, but I've managed to acquire it early, and after a lot of number-crunching the data, I've recompiled it into an easy-to-read format.

But that's not all! In addition to the actual 2018 MLR rebates, I've gone one step further and have taken an early crack at trying to figure out what 2019 MLR rebates might end up looking like next year (for the Individual Market only). In order to do this, I had to make several very large assumptions:

As I've explained before, Section 1332 of the ACA itself gives individual states the right to petition to make changes in how the law works in their state. The idea is that, as President Obama noted himself, if a state can come up with ways to make the ACA provide coverage which is at least as comprehensive to at least as many people as it already does, without increasing the federal deficit, go for it.

There've been a couple dozen 1332 waivers which have made it at least partway through the development process; some failed along the way, some were completed but then rejected by CMS, and some have been approved. The most common type of approved 1332 waiver, in nearly a dozen states now, is for reinsurance, which is a wonky way of leveraging state dollars to reduce premiums for unsubsidized ACA enrollees.

If you're wondering why you've only heard about "reinsurance waivers" over the past year or two, there's two reasons.

This just in via the Colorado Dept. of Insurance:

Polis Administration Projects 18.2% Average Decrease in Premiums for Individual Health Insurance Plans in 2020

Reducing health care costs has been a top priority for Polis.

DENVER (July 16, 2019) – Today, the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), announced that for the first time ever, Colorado health insurance companies that sell individual plans (for people who do not get their health insurance from an employer or government program) expect to reduce premiums by an average of 18.2 percent (-18.2%) over their 2019 premiums, provided the reinsurance program is approved by the federal government. These are the health insurance plans available on the Connect for Health Insurance Exchange, the state’s health exchange made possible by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

As I noted the other day, some of my blog posts don't have any insight to add, they're purely for aggregating data points. This is one of those posts.

Here's the Connect for Health Colorado May enrollment dashboard report. It doesn't provide much detail, and it's kind of fuzzy/hard to read, but I do like the way it shows both QHP selections (that is, how many people selected exchange policies) as well as effectuated enrollments from month to month.

Remember, around 10% of those who select plans never end up actually paying the first month's premium, and are thus never actually enrolled...and there's some amount of churn after that as people drop their coverage mid-year and new people enroll via Special Enrollment Periods. Then the whole process starts over again the following January.

As a result, you see a gradual divergence between QHP selections increasing and effectuated enrollments decreasing throughout the year...only to reset in January of the next year.

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