A week ago, Vox's Sarah Kliff reported that the Trump Administration was slashing the 2018 Open Enrollment Period advertising budget by 90% and the navigator/outreach grant budget by nearly 40%. As I noted at the time, the potential negative impact of these moves on enrollment numbers this fall--coming on top of the period being slashed in half, the CSR reimbursement and mandate enforcement sabotage efforts of the Trump/Price HHS Dept. and the general confusion and uncertainty being felt by the GOP spending the past 7 months desperately attempting to repeal the ACA altogether could be significant. In states utilizing the federal exchange (HealthCare.Gov), 2017 enrollment was running neck & neck with 2016 right up until the critical final week...which played out under the Trump Administration, which killed off the final ad/marketing blitz.
Result? A 5.3% total enrollment drop (or 4.7% if you don't include Louisiana, which expanded Medicaid halfway through the year) via HC.gov, while the 12 state-based exchanges--which run their own marketing/advertising budgets--saw a 1.8% increase in total enrollment year over year.
As noted in the Virginia and Maryland updates, I've started going through the earlier state rate filings and revising them to include:
Updated/revised carrier rate filings;
Additional market withdrawls and/or expansions;
Corrections to CSR factor impact, etc.
The original versions of each state writeup includes screen shots of the actual filing documents and explainers behind specific requests; I don't have time for that with most of the updates, so I'm bundling several states together. Here's Connecticut, Oregon and Vermont's revisions:
Their initial requests ended up boiling down to a weighted average of around 17.2% on the individual market and 8.2% for the small group market. At the time, however, I was still figuring out how to sort out the Trump Tax Factor: That is, the portion of the requested rate hikes which can be blamed specifically on 2 major factors: The GOP's refusal to pass a 64-word bill formally appropriating CSR reimbursement payments unless it's tied to the rest of their #BCRAP bill (and Trump's constant, public threats to cut off CSR payments altogether unless the #BCRAP bill passes); and Trump/Tom Price's ongoing threats/overt suggestions that they're not going to bother enforcing the individual mandate penalty at all.
Oregon is the 5th state to post their initial 2018 rate filings. Last year their weighted average increase was roughly 26.5% across 10 individual market carriers. This year I only see 8 carriers offering policies on the indy market, but the two missing are "Trillium" and "ZOOM", neither of which had more than a handful of enrollees to begin with.
As you can see, ATRIO Health Plans was refreshingly clear in their rate justification letter, not only listing the key numbers (covered lives, average increase) but the reasons for it: 4% due to the reinstatement of the ACA's carrier tax; 1% due to them choosing to shrink their own coverage area from 6 counties to just 2; an increase for smokers., etc. They list 4,250 people being impacted by the increase; I don't know the population of the other 4 counties they're pulling out of, but assuming they're roughly equal, around 8,000 current enrollees will have to shop around this fall.
But when four carriers (Atrio, BridgeSpan, Providence, and — off-exchange — Regence) agreed in August to cover a broader service area than they had originally intended for 2017, state regulators also allowed them to further increase their premiums due to the increased risk they would be shouldering. Final approved average rate increases for Oregon’s exchange carriers are as follows:
Atrio Health Plans: 29 percent (up from the originally-approved 20.8 percent).
BridgeSpan: 23 percent (up from the originally-approved 18.9 percent).
Kaiser Permanente: 14.5 percent (range is from 10.9 to 22 percent).
Oy vey iz mir. Last fall, half of the two dozen Co-Ops created by the ACA were wiped out, falling like dominos over about a two month period, for a variety of reasons including the Risk Corridor Massacre. The other half managed to survive The Purge, many of them just barely doing so.
This year, it looks very much like the Risk Adjustment debacle has decided to try and finish off the job.
Oregon was the second state to publicly announce the rate changes their carriers are requesting for the 2017 individual and small group markets. The overall weighted average request on the individual market side came in at a requested 27.5% increase, while the small group market requests had an average increase of just 1% overall (I didn't weight the small group enrollment numbers at the time, but have done so below).
A few weeks ago, I got a heads up that Virginia was the first state out of the gate with their 2017 Rate Request filings. There were some confusing numbers which took awhile to sort out, but once the dust settled, the overall weighted average rate hike requests for Virginia's entire ACA-compliant individual market came in at around 17.9%.
Some states make it next to impossible to track down this info. Others hand it to you on a silver plate. And then there are states like Oregon, who provide the average rate hike requests in a simple, easy format, but don't necessarily include the market share of those companies, making it difficult to compile a weighted average:
Back in January I noted that Moda Health Plans, which had plenty of self-inflicted wounds in addition to being kneecapped by the Risk Corridor Massacre, was dropping out of the Oregon exchange and likely the Alaska exchange as well, so today's news isn't a big surprise.
The individual market in Alaska has just two carriers in 2016: Moda and Premera. Both have struggled with significant losses under the ACA, and Moda nearly exited the Alaska market altogether in late January (more details below).
Oregon is considering proposals by four companies to provide a new software platform for the state’s health insurance marketplace.
The state uses the federal insurance exchange, http://www.Healthcare.gov, and state officials began to explore other options after the federal government decided to begin charging insurance companies a fee to use the exchange in Oregon.
Oregon has used the federal platform since its own insurance portal, Cover Oregon, failed to launch in 2013. The state and technology company Oracle, which built the Cover Oregon system, are still engaged in a legal battle over who is to blame for the problems.
Remember how the Risk Corridor program was put in place specifically to help guide insurance carriers through the rocky, turbulent, confusing waters of the early years of the ACA exchanges by mitigating massive premium rate miscalculations the first few by having carriers which did better than expected chip into a kitty to be passed out to those which missed the target for the first 3 years?
Remember how the carriers which lost money the first year were really, really counting on those Risk Corridor funds to be there to help cushion the blow?
As anyone who's been following the ACA exchange saga over the past few years knows, the original idea was that all 50 states (+DC) would establish their own, individual healthcare exchange, including their own website/technology platform for enrolling residents in private policies (QHPs), Medicaid (supplementing or replacing whatever existing Medicaid system they already had) and small business policies (the ACA's SHOP program). In addition, each state exchange would also have their own board of directors, marketing department, support call center, fee structure for covering the cost of operations and so on.
If things had worked out that way, there would have been 51 different websites where people would enroll in ACA policies, each one independently branded.
That's 2 in one day, the 8th to fold to date and the 4th one which can be specifically connected the Risk Corridor Disaster:
Health Republic Insurance Not Offering Plans in 2016
Lake Oswego, Ore. (Oct. 16, 2015) –Health Republic Insurance, a non-profit health insurance carrier, announced today that it will not offer small group or individual plans on or off exchange in 2016. All current Health Republic individual and small group policies remain in full effect through the end of 2015. Members can continue to see plan providers and claims will be paid under plan terms.
The federal government recently announced it would pay insurance companies only 12.6% of their risk corridor receivable for the 2014 plan year and has created industry-wide concern about when, or if the 2015 risk corridor would be paid.
This AP article provides snippets about a handful of states; it'd be nice if they just released the actual report so we could see the hard expansion numbers (as opposed to the total increase numbers, which are still obviously useful but don't distinguish between traditional Medicaid and ACA expansion enrollees):
In Kentucky, for example, enrollments during the 2014 fiscal year were more than double the number projected, with almost 311,000 newly eligible residents signing up. That's greater than what was initially predicted through 2021.
...At least 14 states have seen new enrollments exceed their original projections, causing at least seven to increase their cost estimates for 2017, according to an Associated Press analysis of state budget projections, Medicaid enrollments and cost details in the expansion states. A few states said they could not provide original projections.
Also hot off the presses, Nick Budnick at the Oregonian reports that OR is the first state to approve final 2016 individual market policy rates. Since Oregon is not allowing "transitional" policies for 2016 (they gave a 1 year extension vs. the 2-3 that some states allowed), this should apply to all individual policies state-wide (as well as small group policies):
More than 220,000 Oregonians who buy their own health insurance will face higher premiums next year, and Portlanders could see some of the biggest hikes in the country.
State regulators have announced the 2016 rates for people who aren't covered by their employers or government programs.
The overall news is not good for consumers. Some insurers had asked the state to approve rates similar to last year's lowest. But many insurers lost money from unexpectedly high costs, so officials proposed raising many rates in preliminary decisions two weeks ago. The final decisions issued Wednesday resulted in a slightly better range of options for consumer.