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New York: NY State of Health expects BHP enrollment to increase another 90K this year

Thanks to Richard Mayhew for the head's up:

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The state's health exchange expects to enroll more than 470,000 New Yorkers in its new low-cost option for coverage this year.

Testifying at an Assembly hearing this week, exchange Executive Director Donna Frescatore said New York chose to participate with the Essential Plan. The plan is an option under the federal Affordable Care Act starting in 2016.

It's aimed at adults who don't qualify for Medicaid but have been unable to afford private coverage.

The Essential Plan has no annual deductible before insurance begins paying medical bills.

Premiums are free for those with incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.

The official number of New York Basic Health Plan enrollees (aka "Essential Plan") as of the end of the 2016 Open Enrollment Period was 379,559 people. However, unlike Qualified Health Plans (QHPs), the BHP program is open for enrollment year-round, just as Medicaid is (or, to use a similar example, the "ConenctorCare" option in Massachusetts).

I can't imagine that Frescatore meant that they expect 470,000 more New Yorkers to sign up during the off-season this year, so it's safe to assume that she's referring to a total 2016 BHP enrollment of 470K. If so, that would mean roughly 90,000 more people in addition to the 380,000 who were already signed up as of the end of January.

When you add the 106,194 Minnesota residents currently enrolled in their version of the BHP provision ("MinnesotaCare"), that's around 570,000 people who should be enrolled in BHP plans total by the end of the year across both states (possibly even breaking 600,000 if MN's enrollment also tacks on another 30K during the off-season).

UPDATE: Hmmm...as Andrew Sprung reminds me, about 225,000 of NY's current BHP enrollees were actually legal resident (but non-citizen) immigrants who had been transferred over from New York's Medicaid program as early as last April. There's nothing wrong with this, of course, but it does mean that only around 155,000 of those 380K actually actively signed up for BHP coverage.

This means that in order to hit 470K total this year, NY SoH would have to increase active enrollments by around 58% (245K vs. 155K) as opposed to only 24% (470K vs. 380K).

Is this likely? Well, again, the two closest comparisons I can think of are a) the MinnesotaCare BHP program and b) the ConnectorCare program in Massachusetts. The difference in Minnesota is that their program was actually around long before the ACA was passed (it was retooled and refunded to comply with the ACA's BHP provisions). In Massachusetts, "ConnectorCare" is really just a special category of QHPs which have been enhanced with additional financial assistance funded by the state itself. However, like BHP plans, ConnectorCare is intended for low-income Baystaters, and is open for enrollment year-round, so it's not too far off.

In Minnesota, at the end of Open Enrollment, MNsure reported around 27,000 people having joined the program through the exchange. However, by mid-October, this number had jumped up to nearly 64,000. This makes it look like enrollment had skyrocketed nearly 2 and a half times by the end of the year.

However, MNcare is not the only way for Minnesotans to enroll in the MNcare program. Total enrollment was actually 92,423 for February 2015, rising to 121,068 by December. That's still a 31% increase, which is impressive, but nowhere close to 58%.

How about Massachusetts? Well, last year, the MA Health Connector ended 2015 Open Enrollment with 80,029 effectuated ConnectorCare enrollees. That number was up to 134,260 as of November 2015...a 68% increase.

So...overall it sounds like a 90K increase in New York's BHP enrollment tally during the off-season is ambitious but well within a reasonable target.