California QHPs at 8K per day, should be at 965K by now; 85% of 1/31 enrollees paid

Hat Tip To: 
dee

This article is both very helpful but also has 2 frustrating data points missing. The key numbers: While CA was averaging around 7,200 QHP enrollments per day in the first half of February, that rate is apparently up to 8,000/day now. This is excellent, but I don't know whether that 8K/day rate is only for the past week or if it includes the full 2nd half of February (I would guess that it's risen steadily since then.

On the other hand, CoveredCA also suffered from a 3-day outage, which could skew the daily average...they had 3 days of no enrollments, followed, presumably, by the 22K people who tried on those days possibly joining another 22K over the subsequent week or so. Either way, it's looking pretty good, though California will have to end up averaging around 20,000/day in March to do their part in hitting 7M total by 3/31, or 13,000/day to hit 6M.

The other big news here (the main point of the article) is that payment rate for enrollees through 1/31 has gone up from 80% as of 2/19 to 85% as of a couple of days ago:

With less than a month left to sign up for private insurance under the federal health care law, California's enrollment numbers are closing in on the magic number of 1 million as 8,000 people sign up every day...

Roughly 15 percent of the Californians who had enrolled by Jan. 31 still haven't sent in their first month's payment, according to four major health insurance companies participating in the Covered California exchange. So those lofty enrollment numbers could soon be dropping substantially.

A couple of other tidbits worth noting: The article includes a reminder that there's always been a small percentage of insurance customers who simply won't pay for one reason or another, just like the retail industry has always had to deal with a certain number of shoplifters. It'd be nice to have some sense of what "a relatively small number of people" typically is in the industry...1%? 2%? 5%?

Insurance companies have always had a relatively small number of people who stop making payments over the course of a yearlong policy. But Crosby believes the insurance companies participating on the exchange were surprised by the percentage of applicants who hadn't paid up.

Finally, there's the other side of the problem, which I've discussed repeatedly myself and have even experienced myself: When the "failure to pay" is actually on the insurance company's side, not the policy holder's or the exchange's. If the company fails to actually bill the customer, or their billing system screws up in processing or confirmation of payment, that's THEIR issue, not anyone else's. Again, there's no way of knowing what percent of the non-payments these issues make up, but I know from anecdotal evidence that it's a lot of people (including my wife and I...it took BCBSM until early February to confirm our December payment for January coverage:

For some Californians, however, the biggest problem wasn't paying for a plan, it was getting confirmation that their payment had been processed.

It took Woodside resident Jennifer Jones and her husband a nerve-racking seven weeks and two payments -- the first paid by check, the second online -- before their insurance company finally acknowledged that they were insured.

"It was extremely chaotic, just a nightmare," said Jones, a marketing consultant, who stopped payment on the initial check she wrote after waiting seven weeks for the insurer to cash it.

Going back to the actual enrollment tally: While the "8,000 people per day" figure is somewhat vague, I'm confident enough to at least split the difference between 7,200 and 8,000 to call it 7,600/day from 2/16 through 3/08 (minus 3 days for the February outage, to be safe).

That brings California up to: 828,638 + ((18 days x 7,600) = 136,800) = 965,438 (and probably higher)

If you add another 2 days at 8,000/day (yesterday & today), that should bring CA to at least 981K by tomorrow, probably higher. There's still a very good chance of them hitting 1M tomorrow, or Wednesday at the latest, unless there's another factor I'm missing.

In any case, the official February HHS Enrollment Report should be out any day now (possibly even today, more likely tomorrow or Wednesday), so we'll know soon enough.