New Mexico: Huh? 37.4K QHPs & 14K SHOP Enrollees as of 3/31? (UPDATED x3)

Hat Tip To: 
Stevef101

Hmmmmm...not sure what to make of this update out of KUNM in New Mexico. NM only had 18,691 exchange QHPs as of 3/15, so 51.4K would be absolutely insane (a 2.75x increase). It looks like they've mixed the SHOP enrollees into the mix, which means it's not quite that crazy--take those out and the QHPs are down to 37,400, or a "mere" doubling of the existing total. So...I guess that makes sense.

HOWEVER, this causes bigger questions, because the only data I've had for New Mexico's SHOP exchange was a mere 524 as of March 18th. How the hell did they manage to enroll 28 times as many people in the next 13 days???

Furthermore, the only other exchanges with double-digit SHOP enrollments are New York (3rd largest state), DC (Congressional staffers required to use SHOP by law) and Vermont (state law requires small businesses to use SHOP, and those aren't really using their SHOP exchange anyway since, frankly, it's broken).

Something is screwy here, but the article is quite specific and claims to be quoting the guy in charge of NM's ACA program.

I'll go ahead and plug in the numbers for now, but don't be surprised if I yank them back out soon. This is a heck of an eyebrow-raiser.

The New Mexico Health Exchange has just reported that a total of 51,400 people have signed up for insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act as of March 31.

Aaron Ezekiel, director of the ACA for New Mexico, tells KUNM that 26,412 are eligible for tax credits, while 14-thousand signed up under a group plan with their employer, and almost 11-thousand who didn’t qualify for tax credits also chose one of four healthcare plans offered under Obamacare. 

UPDATE 04/05: OK, now I'm even more confused. Another article from BizJournals, which includes some useful data on OFF-exchange enrollments, states the following:

As of March 15, 18,600 New Mexicans had enrolled in individual plans through the federal exchange, said New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange Chairman Dr. J.R. Damron.

New Mexico runs its own small business, or SHOP exchange, and as of March 30, 552 people had enrolled in health plans through that exchange, NMHIX said.

Now these numbers make much more sense to me; the 18.6K figure is the same as what I had for 3/15, and the SHOP number of 552 makes sense for 3/30, since it was 524 on 3/18.

HOWEVER, this morning I wrote Ms. Martinez, the reporter who wrote the KUNM article, and she wrote back right away, insisting that the "14,000" small business number is accurate (along with the 37.4K individual QHPs):

Those are the numbers Mr. Ezekiel read to me several times that he had just received himself from his sources at the ACA offices in DC.  So far as I know, they are accurateThe exact #s  he gave me were 14,100 group signups 26,412 indivs, and 10,899 indivs who didn't qualify for credits.

Let me know if you find that the ACA has different numbers - these are as of last night.

OK...so these include a few extra extension period days, which definitely makes the 37,311 figure more plausible (slightly lower than my 37.4K estimate).

However, that's still 14,000 small business enrollments...and according to the BizJournals story, there were only 552 as of 3/30.

The only possibilities which make sense are that "group signups through their employer" isn't referring to the official SHOP exchange, but also includes off-exchange group enrollments...or that there was some sort of last-minute special program which was finalized in the past few days (maybe via the NM Chamber of Commerce or something?).

The thing is, New Mexico is one of only 2 states (the other is Utah) which use Healthcare.gov for the individual/family exchange but run their SHOP programs themselves. It sounds like I'd have to contact Mr. Ezekiel himself to sort this discrepancy out.

UPDATED x2 04/05: OK, the more I think about it, the more certain I am that the bulk of those 14,000 small business enrollments were done off-exchange, and Ms. Martinez may have simply conflated the two (or perhaps Mr. Ezekiel didn't distinguish). 

Not sure if it's 500 on-exchange and 13.5K off, or 500 plus 14K off, but that's the only thing that makes sense to me. 

It's even possible that the 11,000 "not eligible for tax credits" are off-exchange as well, given the wording of the BizJournals story, but I'm not sure about that one.

Anyway, we should find out one way or the otherwhen the March HHS report comes out...

UPDATED x3 04/07: Well, now. I just heard back from the reporter who wrote the BizJournals article and sure enough, he confirms that the 14K were for OFF-exchange enrollments:

The 14,000 figure is for off-exchange small and large groups for the insurers. 

Glad he cleared that up. Sheesh.

In addition, I just received confirmation of something I hadn't guessed: The 37.4K exchange QHP figure is actually not correct; it's actually 26,412K on exchange plus another 10,899 ("11 thousand") OFF-exchange.

The spreadsheet has been updated with all of the above. Yeesh, what a mess...