OE5

2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

Covered California Announces Continued Strong Enrollment and Reminds Consumers That Penalty Remains in Place Through 2018

  • The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’s requirement that consumers have health insurance remains in place, and consumers may face stiff tax penalties if they are not covered in 2018.
  • A recent study estimates 70 percent of consumers, who are uninsured and eligible for financial help, could purchase health insurance coverage for less than the price of the tax penalty.
  • Most consumers are paying less in monthly premiums than they did a year ago.
  • More than 342,000 consumers have newly enrolled during the current open-enrollment period, which remains ahead of last year’s pace, and continues in California through Jan. 31.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California announced new enrollment figures as it approaches the final weeks of the annual open-enrollment period, and sought to quell consumer confusion by clarifying the federal penalty rules in place for 2018.

A few days ago I reported that the Washington Health Benefit Exchange had enrolled 234,000 people in private policies for 2018 when they had just a couple of days left to go.

Today Hannah Recht provided a link to this WA state navigator meeting in which rough final numbers were included as part of the slideshow presentation, along with a bunch of other data points which should be of interest to other healthcare/navigator wonks. 242,800 is a rough number but assuming it doesn't get changed by much, it means the Apple State enrolled 7.6% more people in QHPs this year than last, with nearly 1/3 of them being new to the WA exchange.

Washington State was already beating their 2017 numbers anyway, so this update just pads their lead.

UPDATE: Arrrrgh!!! Literally moments after I went live with this, Hannah Recht pointed out to me that the Washington Health Benefit Exchange has (unofficially) posted their (rough) final 2018 enrollment numbers via an internal slideshow presentation. The table and all numbers below have been updated to reflect the additional 8,800 enrollees added in WA over the final few days of its enrollment period.

UPDATE 1/22/18: Covered California has just issued a major update to their enrollment data, adding another 122,000 QHP selections to the national tally. Everything below has been updated to include this.

UPDATE 1/28/18: The deadline for Massachusetts has passed and they've posted their final numbers. Everything below has been updated to reflect this update.

No official link or press release yet, but This Just In from Politico NY's Dan Goldberg...

.@charles_gaba new numbers from NY

243,600 -- qhp surpassing last year's
726,300 in the Essential Plan

— Dan Goldberg (@DanCGoldberg) January 18, 2018

Last year, New York State of Health enrolled a total of 242,880 people in ACA exchange policies; this means they're slightly ahead of that number with two weeks left to go before the January 31st Open Enrollment deadline. This makes NY the fifteenth state to surpass last year's total...as well as the 7th State-based Marketplace (or the 10th if you include SBMs which are piggybacking on the federal exchange platform). I'll be writing something up about that later today.

Access Health CT already reported their top-line 2018 Open Enrollment Period number and a few other data points via Twitter a couple weeks ago, but they just issued a more detailed press release:

LT. GOV. WYMAN: DEMAND FOR HEALTH INSURANCE ROSE, 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT STRONGER THAN PREVIOUS YEARS

(HARTFORD, Conn.) – Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman and Access Health CT (AHCT) CEO Jim Wadleigh today provided the results of the Connecticut healthcare exchange’s fifth open enrollment period, which ran from November 1 to December 22, 2017. During this open enrollment cycle, 114,134 residents signed up for private health insurance coverage, reflecting a 2.3 percent increase compared to enrollment figures last year.

Well THIS falls under the Good News department:

CMS Announces Additional Special Enrollment Periods to help Individuals Impacted by Hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
Agency provides extended special enrollment periods for 2018 Medicare and Exchange coverage

En español

This just in via email...

MNsure ends open enrollment with record number of signups

116,358 Minnesotans enrolled in private health plans through MNsure for 2018 health coverage

ST. PAUL, Minn.—Today MNsure announced that a record number of Minnesotans in the individual market signed up for health coverage through MNsure during open enrollment, breaking the previous year’s record of 114,810. Despite an open enrollment period three weeks shorter than 2017 and significant challenges stemming from the federal level, MNsure enrolled more Minnesotans than ever. Thirty percent of MNsure enrollees were new this year.

*According to these numbers, MNsure beat out last year's enrollment total by about 1.3%...impressive in its own right. But it's actually better than that, because the official 2017 Open Enrollment number according to CMS was only 109,974 people...which means that officially, MNsure has actually outperformed last year by 5.8%!

via Email just moments ago...

Connect for Health Colorado® Reports Plan Selection Totals for 2018 in Line with Target and Nearly Matching Longer 2017 Enrollment Period

DENVER —  More than 165,000 Coloradans selected healthcare coverage for 2018 through the state health insurance Marketplace by the close of Open Enrollment, according to new data released today by Connect for Health Colorado®. 

“These are positive results that show us holding steady and in line with our targets for the year,” said Connect for Health Colorado CEO Kevin Patterson.  “Despite the uncertainty that created some confusion in the market, we have seen volumes that nearly match last year’s longer Open Enrollment Period. I am happy to see so many families and individuals put this protection for their health and financial well-being in place for the year. We will be reporting our results in coming weeks in our annual End of Open Enrollment Report.” 

Ten days ago the Washington Health Benefit Exchange reported having enrolled around 231,500 people in 2018 policies after having purged a few thousand who were auto-renewed but then cancelled. This still left them over 6,000 enrollees ahead of last year's final total of 225,600.

Today, with one day left for people to sign up before the January 15th deadline, the Seattle Times reports that WA's tally is up to 234,000:

Washington state is on pace to increase the number of people with health insurance despite efforts by the Republican Congress and the Trump administration to gut the laws known as Obamacare that expanded insurance coverage across the nation.

Of all the state-based exchanges, the one in DC has gone the longest without a formal enrollment update; the last one only included data through December 5th, a whopping 5 weeks ago. Fortunately, the DC board of directors held their monthly meeting last night and produced the following update.

As shown, the tally as of 1/8/18 is 21,352 QHP selections, slightly below last year's 21,437 as of the same date. Since DC (along with California and New York) are sticking with the full 3-month Open Enrollment Period, it should provide a good apples-to-apples comparison (and the fact that very few DC enrollees have CSR assistance also means there's a nominal CSR loading impact, either).

The final, official DC ACA exchange tally last year was 21,248, so technically speaking they've already surpassed that figure...but again, it was 21,437 as of 1/8/17, which means there were at least a few hundred people who were dropped off at the tail end due to cancelling or non-payment of their first premium.

Over at Politico, reporter Jennifer Haberkorn has a pretty impressive scoop about an internal Trump Administration memo from last March which lays out a list of 10 different executive measures Trump planned on taking to muck around with the ACA exchanges and the 2018 Open Enrollment Period:

Trump’s secret plan to scrap Obamacare

Early last year as an Obamacare repeal bill was flailing in the House, top Trump administration officials showed select House conservatives a secret road map of how they planned to gut the health law using executive authority.

The March 23 document, which had not been public until now, reveals that while the effort to scrap Obamacare often looked chaotic, top officials had actually developed an elaborate plan to undermine the law — regardless of whether Congress repealed it.

MNsure, Minnesota's ACA exchange, has just posted their latest official enrollment numbers. It's only a minor update from this unofficial 110K figure a week ago, but every enrollment counts.

111,667 QHP selections bumps them up another 1,667, with 5 days left to go for Minnesota residents to #GetCovered for 2018. It's worth noting that enrollment in MinnesotaCare, MN's name for the ACA's Basic Health Program, has actually dropped slightly since the last hard number update I confirmed back in mid-November (93,049).

Michael Bertaut is a conservative healthcare economist in Louisiana. He and I disagree on most political issues, and he's obviously not a fan of the ACA, but he seems to be intellectually honest about his positions, and he and I have found some common ground over ACA-related stuff in the past.

Case in point: The individual mandate. Bertaut may not care for the ACA overall, but he does recognize, as I do, that if you're going to utilize the "3-legged stool" model for individual market enrollment, it has to include both a positive and negative inducement to encourage (or goad) people into enrolling...aka the Carrot and the Stick. More to the point, if you're going to have a Stick (i.e., the Individual Mandate), it has to be large enough and well-enforced enough to be effective.

(sigh) This is a bit disappointing; just as HealthCare.Gov's "final" enrollment tally dropped by about 78,000 a week later when enrollee cancellations were accounted for, something similar has happened with Massachusetts since Christmas Day: Their tally went from 262,534 on 12/25 to 256,342 QHP selections as of yesterday (01/09), a net drop of about 6,200 people.

This puts the state 10,323 enrollees away from breaking last year's record of 266,664 QHP selections with 14 days left to go before the Jan. 23rd deadline, or a net increase of around 737 enrollees per day.

It's important to keep in mind that not only is the individual mandate still in place for 2018 nationally, Massachusetts still has their own individual mandate penalty on the books regardless, so Bay Staters really should think twice before deciding to take a pass.

UPDATE 01/15/18: Since I originally posted this, the deadlines for 2 more states have passed (CO & MN), and I have minor, non-final enrollment updates for MA, MN, DC & WA. Everything in this post has been updated accordingly, including the table below.

UPDATE 01/16/18: Updated table and writeup to include final Colorado numbers, which just came out today.

UPDATE 01/17/18: Updated table & writeup to include final Maryland numbers, which just came out today.

As I keep stressing, the 2018 Open Enrollment Period is still going on across 6 states 4 states 3 states (+DC). Colorado's deadline is Friday night. Minnesota's is Sunday, followed immediately by Washington State on Monday. Eight days later, Massachusetts closes the books on the 23rd. Finally, eight days after that, OE5 officially ends for the last three state-based exchanges in California, DC and New York State.

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