Open Enrollment

UPDATE 2/20/20: California and New York have come out with their final, official enrollment numbers, as have both Vermont and Rhode Island, although the latter two are estimates on my part due to the way they're reporting their enrollment data. Vermont is lumping together both on- and off-exchange enrollees, while Rhode Island is only reporting those who had paid their first monthly premium, which is different from the way CMS officially reports QHP selections.

In any event, with these three reports in, the grand total is extremely close to where I thought it would be:

California and New York have both released updated 2020 Open Enrollment numbers, so I figured I'd update my spreadsheet one more time before the final data is released. This time I've included a smaller secondary table at the bottom which adjusts the Federal and State-based exchange numbers for Nevada.

OFFICIALLY, HealthCare.Gov enrollment is down nearly 128,000 people this year, but that's not fair because Nevada broke off of HC.gov onto their own full state-based exchange platform this year. When you adjust for that, HC.gov is only down 119,000 people for the remaining 38 states. Meanwhile, the state-based exchanges are officially down 2,900 at the moment, but again, with Nevada joining them, they're actually down around 8,900.people.

That leaves the missing enrollment data from five states. Rhode Island and Vermont haven't released any data...I'm assuming they'll both be very close to last year (call it at least 33,000 and 24,000 respectively). I'm assuming New York + DC will be good for perhaps 3,000 more enrollees combined in their final days. And California will likely tack on another 30,000 or so in their final 2 days of Open Enrollment.

The FINAL 2020 Open Enrollment Period data for the 38 states hosted by HealthCare.Gov was released yesterday, shaving around 17,000 enrollees off of the semi-final report issued before Christmas. In addition, final 2020 OEP numbers have now been released by Idaho, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada and Washington State.

Incomplete numbers have been released for California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts and New York, all of which still have ongoing Open Enrollment, and I'm still waiting on any enrollment data for Rhode Island or Vermont.

With all that in mind, here's a state-by-state breakout showing where things stand as of today, Jaunary 9th. The states have been sorted from worst-performing to best, although obviously the 8 states with partial or no data are misleading (vice-versa for the bar graph).

This Just In via email...

Your Health Idaho enrolls 89,000 Idahoans for 2020 health insurance coverage

  • Idaho exchange sees increase in new customers as overall enrollments decline amid Medicaid expansion

BOISE, Idaho – More than 89,000 Idahoans signed up for 2020 health insurance coverage through the state insurance exchange, Your Health Idaho, during open enrollment which ended Dec. 16, 2019.

Enrollments are down approximately 14,000 from the same time last year. This decline is largely due to Medicaid expansion and was expected by the exchange. Your Health Idaho originally estimated that around 18,000 individuals would move from the exchange to Medicaid under the newly expanded program. 

Your Health Idaho, the states' ACA exchange, reminds residents who completed their enrollment applications that they still have until midnight tonight to actually select a policy:

Last chance to #GetCovered!
For those Idahoans who submitted an application for 2020 health insurance coverage by December 16, you have one more day to pick a plan! Do not wait! Find your perfect plan today at YourHealthIdaho.org!

— Your Health Idaho (@YourHealthIdaho) December 23, 2019

The lastest 2020 Open Enrollment Period data was released last week by most of the exchanges, including HealthCare.Gov, Covered California, Connect for Health Colorado, Access Health CT, Maryland Health Connection and the Washington HealthPlan Finder. When combined with the existing data from the MA Health Connector, MNsure, New York State of Health and the brand-new Nevada Health Link, we should now have over 95% of the total 2020 Open Enrollment QHP selections locked in.

In response to tremendous pressure after yesterday's major technical issues at HealthCare.Gov, CMS Administrator Seema Verma just announced that the deadline for people to #GetCovered in the 38 states which host their ACA enrollment platform with HealthCare.Gov will indeed be extended by 2 days:

We at @CMSGov want to ensure a seamless shopping experience for everyone seeking coverage, so starting at 3 pm ET today, we are extending the marketplace #OpenEnrollment deadline until 3 am ET December 18! https://t.co/HmVdpJlX2C

— Administrator Seema Verma (@SeemaCMS) December 16, 2019

(I originally misread this as being a 3-day extension, but it's only 2 days, since it runs through midnight Pacific Time on Tuesday.)

The 2020 Open Enrollment Period may have ended for most states, but it continues for residents of New York:

If you still missed the deadline, you won't be eligible to enroll for ACA-compliant major medical coverage for the rest of the year unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) due to a qualify life event lke getting married/divorced, moving, giving birth/adopting a child, turning 26, becoming ineligible for Medicaid or losing your employer-sponsored health insurance coverage.

Dammit, I took a couple of hours off to rewatch The Force Awakens with my kid (in anticipation of The Rise of Skywalker coming out this week), and look what happens...

HealthCare.Gov is not letting people login to enroll. This is the second outage, the first lasted 15 minutes. We're 8 minutes into the second. Last time this happened, 100k people could not enroll. @CMSGov must extend the deadline.

— Joshua Peck (@JoshuaFAPeck) December 15, 2019

When I loaded the site, I got the same error screen...but when I refreshed, the login screen came back up again.

For three years running, thanks to a combination of the way the ACA's premiums subsidy formula works and the Silver Loading workaround, several million low-income people are eligible for fully ACA-compliant healthcare policies which end up costing them NOTHING in premiums after federal tax credits are applied.

Here's why: Under the ACA's subsidy formula, if you earn between 100% - 400% of the Federal Poverty Line ($12,490 - $49,960/yr if you're single), you're eligible for subsidies which bring the cost of the benchmark Silver ACA plan down to between 2.06 - 9.78% of your income, on a sliding scale.

If you earn less than 200% FPL (just under $25,000), you also qualify for heavy cost sharing reduction assistance as well...but only if you enroll in a Silver plan.

So, let's suppose you earn exactly $25,000/yr (just over 200% FPL). At that income, you'd qualify for subsidies bringing the benchmark Silver down to 6.5% of your income, or $135/month. If the benchmark plan costs, $600 at full price, you'd therefore be eligible for $465/month.

Starting today, November 1st, the Seventh Annual ACA Open Enrollment Period is upon us! As I do every year, here's a list of important things to remember when selecting a health insurance policy. Some of these are the same every year and apply nationwide; others are specific to the 2020 enrollment period and/or to particular states.

1. DON'T MISS THE DEADLINE!

California actually launched Open Enrollment for 2020 on October 15th, but for the other 49 states (+DC) it starts on November 1st. The deadline for Open Enrollment is December 15th in most states for coverage starting January 1st, 2020, but eight states which operate their own ACA exchanges have extended deadlines:

I want to stress the unofficial caveat here.

Last year there was an unprecedented amount of uncertainty and chaos surrounding the Affordable Care Act. On the one hand, you had Congressional Republicans desperately attempting to repeal the ACA altogether a good half a dozen times...and coming within a single "thumbs down" of doing so at one point.

At the same time, you had Donald Trump screaming into the wind about doing everything he could to simultaneously cause the ACA exchanges to "blow up" or "implode", depending on the tweet of the day, culminating in him finally pulling the plug on Cost Sharing Reduction reimbursement payments.

There were several stories over the past few days about a new, just-released report from the General Accounting Office (GAO) which examined how well/poorly the Trump Administration handled the 2018 Open Enrollment Period last year.

Many of the findings were things which I had been either predicting or documenting all year:

  • Enrollment through Healthcare.gov Was 5 Percent Lower in 2018 than 2017
  • Stakeholders Reported That Plan Affordability Likely Played a Major Role in Enrollment
  • HHS Reduced Consumer Outreach for 2018 and Used Problematic Data to Allocate Navigator Funding
  • HHS Did Not Set Numeric Enrollment Targets for 2018, and Instead Focused on Enhancing Certain Aspects of Consumers’ Experiences

We identified a list of factors that may have affected 2018 healthcare.gov enrollment based on a review of Department of Health and Human Services information, interviews with health policy experts, and review of recent publications by these experts related to 2018 exchange enrollment.

Factors related to the open enrollment period:

This just in via email...

MNsure again giving Minnesotans more time to shop for health coverage for 2019
Minnesotans will have an extra month to shop for coverage again this year

ST. PAUL, MN--Today MNsure announced the dates during which Minnesotans will have time to shop for 2019 health coverage. Open enrollment will begin on Nov. 1, 2018, and run through Jan. 13, 2019. This is nearly a month longer than the federal open enrollment period that runs from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15. As a state-based marketplace, MNsure has authority to supplement the upcoming federal open enrollment period with a special enrollment period to give Minnesotans more time to shop.

"Shopping for health coverage is a complex process, and Minnesotans rely on the free in-person assistance offered by MNsure’s assister network," said acting CEO Nate Clark. "This year our assisters face additional challenges given the amount of change coming to Minnesota’s Medicare plans. The extra time to shop will ensure that all MNsure consumers who need it will get that vital assistance."