Back in early December, I noted that while I applauded both New Jersey and the District of Columbia for creating their own individual healthcare coverage responsibility requirements (aka, The Individual Mandate) in response to Congressional Republicans repealing the ACA's federal penalty, doing so also required making sure that residents of NJ/DC *knew* they had done so:
There's only one problem with this: The impact of the mandate penalty is completely psychological in nature. It only works (to the extent that it does at all) if people know that they'll be penalized financially for not complying with the mandate.
Until now, I've been missing the final 2019 Open Enrollment Period numbers for two state-based exchanges: Vermont and the District of Columbia. VT is still radio silent, but last night the DC exchange authority held their monthly meeting and released their latest data report.
There's a bunch of handy demographic data included in the report...but some of it is also confusing and difficult to get an accurate year-over-year measurement due to a difference of time periods and enrollment status.
I've put in a request to sort some of this out and will update this entry if/when I receive clarification.
For instance, the DC exchange says that they have the following number of residents currently effectuated as of February 10th:
DC Health Link Extends 2019 Open Enrollment Deadline to Wednesday, Feb. 6
Washington, DC – DC residents will have an additional six days to sign up for 2019 health insurance coverage through DC Health Link. The new deadline to sign up is 11:59pm on Wednesday, February 6. Individuals who sign up by that deadline will have coverage beginning March 1, 2019.
DC Health Link customer service representatives will be available today at (855) 532-5465 from 8:00am to 8:00pm and on Monday, February 4th through Wednesday, February 6th to work with individuals seeking to enroll in health insurance coverage effective March 1. In-person assistance will also be available at enrollment centers throughout the District to assist residents with the enrollment process through February 6th.
Believe it or not, the 2019 ACA Open Enrollment Period officially ended last night...but only in 43 states. In the remaining seven (+DC), Open Enrollment hasn't ended yet. 2019 ACA Open Enrollment is still ongoing for over 23 million people!
In the District of Columbia (population 694,000) and New York (population 19.85 million), open enrollment runs through Jan. 31st for coverage starting March 1st.
DC Health Link Pulling Out All the Stops for African-American “Week of Action”
Friday, January 18, 2019
Marching in MLK, Jr. Day Parade, barber shop outreach, and visiting churches highlight opportunities to boost African-American health insurance enrollment
With less than two weeks left to the January 31 deadline to sign up for 2019 coverage, DC Health Link is ramping up outreach efforts to the African-American community, where the uninsured rate remains high. DC Health Link, in partnership with various community organizations, is encouraging uninsured African-Americans to enroll in quality, affordable health insurance during DC Health Link’s “African-American Week of Action.”
So, it's over, right? Well...not quite. The 2019 ACA Open Enrollment Period officially ended last night...but only in 43 states. In the remaining seven (+DC), Open Enrollment hasn't ended yet. 2019 ACA Open Enrollment is still ongoing for nearly 10% of the population!
In Massachusetts, open enrollment runs through Jan. 23rd, 2019 for coverage starting February 1st
Last week I acquired the DC Health Link enrollment data for the first two weeks of 2019 Open Enrollment. It showed that DC, unlike most of the other state-based exchanges, was lagging behind last year for the first two weeks (although not as much as most of the HC.gov states).
Well, I just received updated data out of DC and the enrollment situation over the following four weeks didn't improve (if anything they dropped off slightly more):
Nov. 1 - Dec. 11, 2017: 19,252 QHP selections
Nov. 1 - Dec. 11, 2018: 17,825 QHP selections
That's a drop of around 7.4% year over year so far.
As with most other state-based exchanges, the numbers for both years include auto-renewals, which means the vast bulk of 2019 enrollments are likely already baked in. Last year's final tally was 19,289; DC has already reached 92% of that as of 12/11. Keep in mind that DC's Open Enrollment Period does not end on Saturday the 15th; it continues for another 47 days after that, through January 31st.
Things weren't looking great as of two weeks in: Total enrollments were down 6.8% (1,202 people) year over year as of the same date. We'll have to see whether things have picked up since then.
As with most other state-based exchanges, the numbers for both years include auto-renewals, which means the vast bulk of 2019 enrollments are likely already baked in. Last year's final tally was 19,289; DC had already reached 85% of that as of 11/13.
DC's report also includes all sorts of wonky demographic breakout data, and even closes with currently effectuated numbers for both the individual and small business (SHOP) markets. Remember, DC's SHOP market is unusually high (especially compared to the individual market) because the ACA requires all members of Congress and their staff to enroll using it if they want their 72% FEHB subsidy.
However, the DC exchange board was also working quickly in an attempt to counter the Trump Administration's #ACASabotage factors, by voting to restrict short-term plans, to lock in DC's Open Enrollment Period at a full 3 months as in years past, and to reinstate the ACA's individual mandate penalty at the local level.
...back in February...the executive board of the DC ACA exchange unanimously voted to reinstate the mandate. It didn't mean all that much at the time, however, because the authority to reinstate it actually belongs to the DC Council.
Well, thanks to Mr. Levitis for the heads up. If you scroll down to Page 138, you can see that the DC Council has indeed done just that:
TITLE V. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
SUBTITLE A. INDIVIDUAL HEALTH INSURANCE REQUIREMENT
Sec. 5001. Short title.
This subtitle may be cited as the “Health Insurance Requirement Amendment Act of 2018”.
Sec. 5002. Title 47 of the District of Columbia Official Code is amended as follows:
(a) The table of contents is amended by adding a new chapter designation to read as follows:
“51. Individual Taxpayer Health Insurance Responsibility Requirement”.
(b) A new Chapter 51 is added to read as follows: “CHAPTER 51. INDIVIDUAL TAXPAYER HEALTH INSURANCE RESPONSIBILITY REQUIREMENT.
*(technically Vermont was the third to do so, but theirs doesn't kick into effect until 2020, and they haven't even crystalized exactly what form it would take anyway.)
**(yeah, I know very well that DC isn't actually a state, but it's pretty awkward to put "state and/or territory" in the headline.)
I realize that 110% of the news/media/political attention is on the bombshell announcement that Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring at the end of July, but there are other things going on as well, so I'll do my best to soldier on...
More big health care action at the state level: yesterday the DC Council passed what would be the nation's third state-level individual mandate, after Mass. and NJ.https://t.co/BmtnDAQvVp