Georgia: 3/31 total: 221.6K QHPs, in spite of Ralph Hudgens' best efforts to be a jerk (UPDATED)

Hat Tip To: 
AlexRockwell

You may remember Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens as the jackass who actually bragged about blocking his own constituents from gaining access to healthcare last August:

“Let me tell you what we’re doing (about ObamaCare),” Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens bragged to a crowd of fellow Republicans in Floyd County earlier this month: “Everything in our power to be an obstructionist.”

After pausing to let applause roll over him, a grinning Hudgens went on to give an example of that obstructionist behavior, this one involving so-called “navigators” who are being hired to guide customers through the process of buying health insurance on marketplaces, or exchanges, set up under the federal program.

“We have passed a law that says that a navigator, which is a position in that exchange, has to be licensed by our Department of Insurance,” Hudgens said. “The ObamaCare law says that we cannot require them to be an insurance agent, so we said fine, we’ll just require them to be a licensed navigator. So we’re going to make up the test, and basically you take the insurance agent test, you erase the name, you write ‘navigator test’ on it.”

Hudgens clearly thought that was a pretty cute way for state officials to obstruct and delay implementation of the program and to ensure that it doesn’t work well for Georgians. Judging from their reaction, his audience thought so too. The question is why he thinks such steps are necessary.

Well, today he had to suck it up and release the actual numbers for Georgia...and as you can see, he did everything he could to put a negative spin on it:

Atlanta – With the end of the 2014 open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens today released data which represents the number of Georgians who sought health insurance coverage through the Federal Healthcare Marketplace.

“Just under 150,000 individuals will be insured through policies purchased on the Exchange,” Commissioner Hudgens said. “Many Georgians completed the application process by the deadline, but have yet to pay for the coverage.”

The Insurance Department surveyed the five health insurers (Alliant, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Humana, Kaiser and Peach State), conducting business on the Exchange to determine how many Georgians would be covered by the private health insurance. The data revealed that as of March 31, 2014:

  • Insurers received 221,604 applications for insurance.
  • Premiums had only been received for 107,581 of those policies, covering 149,465 lives.
  • Approximately 104,242 of those individuals will be insured by policies which will receive a federal subsidy.

In 2013, the Department estimated that approximately 400,000 Georgians could lose their current health insurance policy because the policies failed to meet new mandates required by the Affordable Care Act. Although Hudgens encouraged insurers to extend those policies until 2016, it’s unknown how many of the enrollees were forced into the Exchange because of policy cancellations. 

OK, there's two things going on here.

In their last update, Georgia made it sound as though 145K out of 178K had paid as of 3/26. However, by mixing up households vs. individuals and paid vs. unpaid, this has gotten confusing.

Georgia's official HHS report tally as of 3/01 was 139,371, so I think it's safe to say that the 221.6K figure is the correct one to use here. Since the HHS report data is specifically for individuals, that further suggests that 221.6K "applications" actually refers to "individuals", not households...which suggests a 67% payment rate for Georgia. Hard to say, however, given the confusing and contradictory numbers being thrown around.

Also notice that he deliberately uses the term "applications" for the 221.6K figure, even though the fact that he specifically states that "insurers received" 221.6K along with the following "how many have PAID???" line make it clear that this is the number of enrollments...it's just that this includes unpaid as well as paid ones.

The other thing to notice, of course, is how Hudgens tries to piss on his own report by stressing that only X people have paid their first premium yet, and then adding an utterly unnecessary line at the end about the hundreds of thousands of people who might have been issued cancellation notices last fall, "forcing" them onto the exchanges.

Of course, we've recently learned that "400,000 might be cancelled" does NOT equal "400,000 were cancelled" by any means.

UPDATED: Even better... contributor Alex Rowell pointed out that this is only through March 31st! That means Georgia's actual tally should be a bit higher yet!