Colorado

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 yet2019 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

ALSO...

This just in from Connect for Health Colorado...

Connect for Health Colorado® Sees Increase in Number of Coloradans Receiving Financial Help in Sixth Open Enrollment Period

DENVER – More than 169,000 Coloradans selected health coverage for 2019 through the state health insurance Marketplace by the close of Open Enrollment Tuesday, an increase of 2 percent over the previous Open Enrollment period, according to new data released today by Connect for Health Colorado®, and the number getting financial help buying insurance grew sharply.

About three of every four people—77 percent – who chose health insurance through Connect for Health Colorado qualified to receive financial help to reduce their monthly premium. That is up from 69 percent in 2018 and 61 percent in 2017.

A pop-up message appeared on the home page of Connect for Health Colorado on Tuesday the 15th:

If you encounter long hold times today and are unable to get through to our Customer Service Center on Jan. 15 to complete your enrollment, please contact our customer service center no later than 6:00 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 18 to complete your enrollment. At that time, you must let the representative know that you were unable to get through on Jan. 15.

Oddly, the message didn't include C4HCO's actual phone number: 855 752-6749

Colorado was already within 0.5% of surpassing last year's enrollment total as of January 3rd (just 712 enrollees shy); I'm certain they've beaten that number already.

From Covered California:

Covered California’s Iconic Bus Tour Rolls into San Francisco to Promote Health Insurance Enrollment Ahead of Final Deadline

  •  Covered California’s bus tour promotes enrollment and encourages consumers to see if they are eligible for financial help in obtaining quality health insurance.
  •  The San Francisco visit coincides with the release of Governor Gavin Newsom’s budget which focuses on making health care more affordable through increased financial help and a state individual shared responsibility provision.
  •  Consumers have through Jan. 15 to sign up and select a plan, through Covered California or directly with health plans, for Feb. 1 coverage.
  •  An estimated 1.1 million uninsured Californians are eligible to enroll in Covered California and research shows that 82 percent of uninsured consumers surveyed, who are eligible for financial assistance, do not know that they qualify.

This just in from Connect for Health Colorado...

Rural Counties Lead Connect for Health Colorado® 2019 Health Coverage Sign Ups; Many Have Already Passed 2018 Totals

DENVER – Rural counties are leading the way in Connect for Health Colorado® sign ups as the state health insurance marketplace heads to the last week of the 2019 Open Enrollment period.

Overall, 2019 health plan selections through Connect for Health Colorado are running about 3 percent ahead of the comparable period a year ago but many rural counties have already exceeded the number of plan selections made in the entire two-and-a-half-month Open Enrollment period in 2018.

By January 3, 2019, 30 of the state’s 64 counties had matched or exceeded the number of plan selections made during all of last year’s Open Enrollment. This year’s Open Enrollment runs through January 15.

Apparently all of the state-based exchanges decided to release their 12/15 numbers at once this afternoon...(via email, no web link yet):

Connect for Health Colorado® Reports 5% Increase in Healthcare Plan Selections for 2019; Open Enrollment Continues Four Weeks

DENVER -- More than 156,000 Coloradans selected healthcare coverage for 2019 through the state health insurance Marketplace through December 15, 2018, a rate 5 percent ahead of signups one year ago, according to new data released today by Connect for Health Colorado®.

“I am happy with the pace of sign-ups for health insurance plans that take effect January 1,” said Connect for Health Colorado CEO Kevin Patterson.  “But we are still enrolling Coloradans who buy their own health insurance and will continue through January 15. For anyone who does not yet have coverage in place, it’s time to go to our site and pick your coverage for next year. In four weeks, the door closes for buying your 2019 health plan.” 

This just in...

Connect for Health Colorado Reports Increase in 2019 Medical Plan Selections

DENVER — More than 46,000 Coloradans selected health coverage through Connect for Health Colorado® during November, a number 6 percent ahead of the pace one year ago, according to new data released today.

“We started with a strong month but there are now only 12 days left to get coverage in place for Jan. 1,” said Connect for Health Colorado® CEO Kevin Patterson. “It is time for Coloradans who buy their own health insurance to act to protect their health and their family finances.”

During November, Connect for Health Colorado customers made 46,332 medical plan selections. The total was 43,881 medical plan selections for the comparable period in 2017. Fifteen percent of the plan selections are by customers who are new to Connect for Health Colorado and 85 percent are renewing customers.

Connect for Health Colorado® Reports Increase in 2019 Medical Plan Selections

DENVER — More than 25,000 Coloradans selected health coverage through Connect for Health Colorado® between Nov. 1 and Nov. 15, a number 13 percent ahead of the pace one year ago, according to new data released today.

“This number of initial sign-ups is the strongest start to an Open Enrollment Period we have seen,” said Connect for Health Colorado® CEO Kevin Patterson. “By acting early, these Coloradans will ensure their health coverage is in place Jan. 1, 2019, protecting their health and their family finances.”

The two-week period saw 25,614 medical plan selections. The total was 22,650 medical plan selections for the comparable period in 2017. Twelve percent of the plan selections are by customers who are new to Connect for Health Colorado and 88 percent are renewing customers.

Connect for Health Colorado® Customers See Lower Net Premiums, Simplified Application and Market Stabilization

DENVER — Connect for Health Colorado opens for business Thursday, November 1, with rate increases lower than the state has seen in years, a streamlined application process that will save Coloradans time obtaining financial assistance and all seven health insurance companies are returning in 2019, in a sign of a stabilizing marketplace.

More than 130,000 Coloradans got help paying for health insurance in 2018. Renewing customers qualifying for financial help will see their net premium – their cost after the Advance Premium Tax Credit – go down 24% on average in 2019.

This is thanks to the Power of Silver Loading and the Silver Switcharoo (Colorado chose to Broad Load in 2018 but is upgrading this year).

This Just In from Connect for Health Colorado:

Most Connect for Health Colorado® Customers Will See Decrease in Premiums for 2019 as Marketplace Stabilizes

DENVER — With rate increases lower than the state has seen in years, Connect for Health Colorado® customers who qualify for financial help are looking at an average decrease in their net (after tax credit) premium of 24 percent next year.

The Colorado Division of Insurance today issued final approval for individual health insurance plans that will increase by an average of 5.6% in 2019. The relatively small increase in monthly premiums and the return of all seven health insurance companies to the Connect for Health Colorado, the state’s health insurance Marketplace, are signs of a stabilizing market for Coloradans who buy their own health insurance coverage.

Via the Colorado Division of Insurance:

DENVER (July 13, 2018) – The Colorado Division of Insurance, part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), today released preliminary information for proposed health plans and premiums for 2019 for individuals and small groups. Colorado consumers can file formal comments on these plans through August 3.

2018 Companies Return for 2019
The same seven companies that offered on-exchange, individual plans are returning for 2019 - Anthem (as HMO Colorado), Bright Health, Cigna Health and Life, Denver Health Medical Plans, Friday Health Plans, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Colorado and Rocky Mountain HMO. And like in past years, this means that all counties in Colorado will have at least one on-exchange company selling individual health plans.

I had actually already written about Vermont doing this back in March, but seeing how it was one of only 2 states (+DC) which didn't allow Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) costs to be loaded onto premiums at all this year, I figured I should mention it here as well. Once again:

  • 20 states went the full #SilverSwitcharoo route (the best option, since it maximizes tax credits for those eligible for them while minimizing the number of unsubsidized enrollees who get hit with the extra CSR load);
  • 16 states went with partial #SilverLoading (the second best option: Subsidized enrollees get bonus assistance, though not as much as in Switch states; more unsubsidized enrollees take the hit, but they aren't hit quite as hard);
  • 6 states went with "Broad Loading", the worst option because everyone gets hit with at least part of the CSR load except for subsidized Silver enrollees;
  • 6 states took a "Mixed" strategy...which is to say, no particular strategy whatsover. The state insurance dept. left it up to each carrier to decide how to handle the CSR issue, and ended up with a hodge podge of the other three
  • 3 states (well, 2 states + DC, anyway) didn't allow CSR costs to be loaded at all. Their carriers have to eat the loss, which makes little sense, but what're ya gonna do?

Louise Norris is an awesome source for all sorts of healthcare policy/insurance data, but she's especially on top of developments in her home state of Colorado, where she and her husband Jay run a small brokerage outlet.

Today Jay and Louise have a couple of interesting tidbits out of The Centennial State (yeah, I had to look up their nickname myself).

First, according to Jay (via the Connect for Health Colorado exchange itself), as of May 7, 2018, C4HCO had exactly 142,474 people enrolled in effectuated ACA exchange policies statewide. This is noteworthy mainly because 161,764 people selected Qualified Health Plan (QHP) policies during the 2018 Open Enrollment Period.

That's (sort of) an 88% retention rate through early May. I say "sort of" because this presumably includes some amount of churn (if 100 people drop coverage and 100 off-season enrollees sign up, that'd be a net change of zero). Even so, it's actually slightly better compared to prior years, when the national effectuation number had usually dropped to around 87% by the end of March.

I have mixed feelings about private health insurance companies and, by extension, health insurance brokers.

On the one hand, as a universal coverage advocate who'd prefer that it be pretty much all publicly funded, I see private, profit-based insurance carriers as a middleman which shouldn't be necessary in the first place.

On the other hand, until the day comes where universal coverage via a single Medicare-for-All-like national healthcare system, insurance carriers are necessary, and since they offer a variety of different policies with different networks, coverage features, premiums, deductibles, co-pays and so forth, that means a lot of hand-holding is also necessary.

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