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Donald Trump, today:

Donald Trump on Tuesday claimed that the Obama administration is lying about the size of ObamaCare premium hikes, saying it put out a "phony" number.

The administration on Monday announced that the average premium increase for a benchmark ObamaCare plan will be 25 percent for 2017, a number seized on by Republicans.

But Trump took the line of attack a step farther.

“And the number of 25 percent is nothing,” the GOP presidential nominee told Fox News. “That’s a phony number, too, that’s a lie, just like everything else.” 

The 25 percent number comes from a 40-page report released by the Department of Health and Human Services on Monday. It includes a four page section on its methods, as well as tables breaking down the premium increases by state and county.

Spokespeople for Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request to elaborate on his comments.

Going into the fourth year of open enrollment, my work here at ACA Signups has started to fall into a seasonal pattern. During open enrollment itself, of course, it's all about the core mission of the site: Live-tracking the number of people who actually sign up for ACA exchange policies, and the related news items which accompany that. In the spring, it's all about dust settling and wrapping up: Plugging in the hard numbers, seeing how they compare with what I had projected and so on.

In the summer and fall, however, I'm on my second year of tracking the average (unsubsidized) rate increases people can expect for the following year.

For the past month or so, dozens of news stories across the political ideological spectrum have cited my estimate of the national weighted average individual market rate hikes for 2017...usually listed as 24-25%, depending on the exact date they went to press (the number has moved around slightly as additional state data has come in; it currently sits at 25.6%, although I expect it to drop back below the 25% mark once the remaining 5 states are plugged in).

However, yesterday's press releases from the HHS Dept., along with the official ASPE Health Plan Choice and Premiums in the 2017 Health Insurance Marketplace report has caused a bit of understandable confusion. Kevin Drum over at Mother Jones mentions both ASPE's 22% figure along with my own 25% estimate:

Last week I noted that with 41 states accounted for and the 2017 Open Enrollment Period quickly bearing down on everyone, it was time to pull the plug on my 2017 Average Rate Hike project and move on. I had come up with an overall national weighted unsubsidized average rate increase of around 25% for ACA-compliant individual market plans.

However, I also noted that I'd make sure to fill in the approved rates for the remaining 10 states as they came in, for completeness sake...and today, thanks to the HHS Dept. cutting the ribbon on 2017 Window Shopping at HealthCare.Gov, I've also been able to fill in the blanks for five of the remaining states all in one shot (the other five remain elusive).


More Than 70 Percent of Consumers Can Find Marketplace Plans for Less than $75 Per Month

With Start of Window Shopping, Americans Can Now Check Out Options for 2017 Coverage

With window shopping beginning today, Health Insurance Marketplace consumers can now visit to check out their options for 2017 coverage in advance of the start of Open Enrollment on November 1. A new report released today shows that 72 percent of Marketplace consumers in states using will be able to find plans with a premium of less than $75 per month and 77 percent will be able to find plans with premiums below $100, taking into account financial assistance. The report also shows that consumers will have options, with an average of 30 health insurance plans to choose from.

For over 2 months now, I've pinned my 2017 Average Rate Hike Project summary to the top of the home page, gradually filling in one state after another as approved rate change data was released. As I indicated in my most recent update to that post, it's time to move on...especially now that 2017 Open Enrollment Period Window Shopping at HealthCare.Gov has officially gone live:

Let's step through the process and see what's changed, shall we?

First of all, the general interface is mostly the same but has a slightly different layout:

designed to be even more mobile-friendly (note the arrow at the top right...that toggles a vertical menu which lets you move back/forth between steps in the form process):

I wrote the following almost exactly 1 year ago, regarding news that the total number/variety of plans available via was dropping from the previous year:

While this sounds negative overall, in some ways it actually could be good news. For instance, the Massachusetts exchange deliberately cut down on the number of plans available:

Consumers can expect at least two big changes this fall when they go shopping for their 2016 health insurance through the Massachusetts Health Connector: significantly fewer choices, and a new mechanism to find out which care networks include their doctors.

The Connector staff told the agency’s governing board Thursday that the number of plans offered next year will be no more than 81, down from the current 126.

The board had agreed in March that the Connector needed to simplify its offerings. The differences among the plans were described as too small to justify the confusion caused by so many options.

(judging from the Mervyn's ad campaign, white middle-class suburban women were the only ones who bought clothing in the '90's....)

With Open Enrollment 2017 just 11 days away and the books closed on my Average Rate Hike project (don't worry, I'll fill in the remaining 10 states later but with 41 states accounted for, I think I've made my point), I figured it'd be a good point to take a look at which of the ACA exchange websites are already open for 2017 window shopping and which ones aren't:

At the beginning of 2016, the Kaiser Family Foundation ran an analysis of just who the remaining uninsured Americans are by income, employment status, legal residency status and so on. They came to some interesting and important conclusions, many of which I incorporated into my own massive "SHOW YOUR WORK" pie chart project back in April, which attempted to break out the entire U.S. population by type of healthcare coverage (or the lack thereof, in the case of the uninsured).

Yesterday, Kaiser published a completely updated version of their analysis. In addition to having more recent data to work with (including the increased number of ACA exchange enrollees, the increased number of people covered by Medicaid thanks to ongoing ACA expansion progress, etc), they also made some changes in their methodology. The most obvious change is that their estimate of the total uninsured (non-elderly only; you'd have to bump the number up by perhaps 1 million more if seniors were included) has dropped from 32.3 million to 27.2 million nationally.

In addition, however, the proportion of people falling into different categories has shifted as well. Here's how they break it out:

OK, now that both HHS and I agree that the ACA exchange target for the 2017 Open Enrollment Period is around 13.8 million QHP selections, it's time to dust off The Graph and reset it for 2017.

It was fairly easy to do so this time because this is the first year that the starting and ending dates match (November 1st to January 31st). All I really had to do was bump up the 1/31/17 projection from 12.7 million to 13.8 million, and the rest of the projection line adjusted accordingly.

With that in mind, here's how I expect things to play out for Year 4 (click below for a higher-res version):

Some important notes to keep in mind:

Unfortunately, due to an ongoing side project of mine, I haven't had a chance to write up a full analysis/projection for OE4 as I usually do around this time.

However, I've been informed that the HHS Dept. plans on issuing their 2017 Open Enrollment projections in the near future, so I'm throwing this out there quickly:

I expect somewhere between 13.5 - 14.0 million people are likely to select QHPs via the ACA exchanges during the 2017 Open Enrollment Period (which runs from 11/01/16 - 1/31/17).

As always, it's important to remember that QHP selections are not the same as effectuated policies...there's usually around 10% or so of enrollees who never bother paying their first premium and thus are never actually enrolled, and of course there's attrition after that as people drop their policies after 1, 2, 3 months or more for various reasons (many replaced by new enrollees via SEPs and so forth).

UPDATE: Oh for heaven's sake. Turns out HHS is projecting 13.8 million...but no one will ever believe that my own expectations were around the same range because they announced it half an hour ago and I didn't notice.

(sigh) OK, believe me or don't. So be it.

Due to an ongoing external committment, I'm not able to write up a full analysis of this, but CMS has issued their "Mid-Year Effectuation Report" which updates at least some of the ACA exchange stats for the first half of 2016:

October 19, 2016

First Half of 2016 Effectuated Enrollment Snapshot

For the first half of 2016, an average of 10.4 million consumers had effectuated Health Insurance Marketplace coverage – which means those individuals, paid their premiums and had an active policy through one of the Health Insurance Marketplaces nationwide as of that date. [i] Effectuated enrollment is generally lower in January and February, since coverage purchased in the weeks before the final Open Enrollment deadline does not begin until March. June effectuated enrollment was slightly higher than the average for the first half of the year, about 10.5 million.  These amounts do not include individuals enrolled in coverage through New York and Minnesota’s Basic Health Programs, which currently enroll about 650,000 people.

The ACA exchange in Arizona has had some pretty dramatic turns over the past month or so. When the dust settled, every county in the state will still have at least one carrier offering plans on the exchange...although only one. Anyway, today the AZ DOI joined Pennsylvania and Michigan in releasing their final approved rate hikes for both the individual and small group markets:

Right on top of Pennsylvania, the Michigan Dept. of Insurance has issued their final approvals for 2017 individual and small group market rate increases. As has been pretty typical this year, the final approved rates aren't all that different from what was requested; a little nip/tuck here and there, and the 17.2% average requested has been slightly trimmed to 16.7% approved for the indy market. Meanwhile, the small group average is barely noticeable: 2.6% requested, 2.5% approved. Unlike most states, the MI DOI has already done most of the heavy lifting for me, so I don't even have to use my own spreadsheet to calculate the weighted average.

(thanks to commenters "M E" and "joe" for the heads up).

The state Dept. of Insurance has released their approved rate hikes for 2017, and it's bad news in two different ways. First, the overall full-price average rate increase looks like it'll be roughly 32.5%...over 8 points higher than the original rates requested by the carriers. Secondly, even with those higher increases, two more indy market carriers (Keystone Health Plan and Geisinger Quality Options) are pulling off the exchange, although both will continue to offer off-exchange plans.

It's important to be careful with the full carrier names here, because they often operate under several different very similar ones (Keystone Health Plans vs. Keystone Health Plan East, for instance, which is not pulling off the exchange).

So here's what's happening with each: