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Connecticut: 101% exchange QHPs PAID (yes, you read that correctly!)

Hat Tip To: 

After my back-to-back Cranky Screeds, this is a breath of fresh air.

Given the "How many have PAID???" fuss & bother, I've been debating how to handle an interesting number-crunching dilemma ever since the (final???) HHS report for March/part of April was released a few weeks back.

The question is this: When people ask "how many have paid?" their first month's premium, are they really interested in the percentage or in the actual number of people who are paid up?

This may seem like a curious distinction, but consider the following: Officially, the maximum total number which could potentially be "fully enrolled" (ie, premium paid) is 8,019,763. That's the number that the HHS Dept. listed in their last report, which runs through April 19th.

So, 90% of that number would be around 7.22 million, give or take.

However, as I've pointed out many times, there were still oddball QHP enrollments coming in after 4/19, whether via the still-open exchanges in DC, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon etc, or via the "year round" enrollment option open to people who have a Qualifying Life Event and so forth. Hell, Nevada's "normal" exchange is still open even now, and will be for another 9 days. In addition, there were a handful of clerical corrections from the 3/31 and 4/15 cut-off states. Add these all up and I'm pretty sure that the actual number we're talking about is about 100,000 higher than the official 8.02M figure above.

90% of that number would be about 7.31 million.

Well, that brings me to Connecticut. It's important to remember that unlike every other state except Washington, Connecticut did not allow the 15-day "overtime" period. They kept to the original 3/31 cut-off date for exchange QHPs, and according to the HHS report (which, again, runs all the way out through 4/19), Connecticut's official total is 79,192.

Now, I was aware that CT had been "purging" a certain portion of their unpaid/cancelled enrollments, but I assumed that this only referred to the earlier batch of enrollees--that is, people whose policies were supposed to start in January, February or March. I figured that yeah, it made sense to subtract those unpaid people from the total, but that CT was still keeping the April and May-start enrollees on the books for now. So, while I have most other states down with a "90% paid" estimate, I went with 95% for Connecticut. Thus, until now I had CT down with 75,232 paid exchange QHPs.

Well, guess what?

When the counting was done about 80,018 had signed up with one of the three private insurance carriers on the exchange. Of those, 61,939 are receiving a tax credit from the federal government and 18,079 have purchased plans that aren’t being subsidized. Another 149,013 individuals were enrolled in Medicaid, which has been expanded to include people who make less than 138 percent of the federal poverty level.

There are another 7,000 who signed up for plans, but never paid their first premium so are not counted and are no longer enrolled.

Did you read that carefully?

That's right. HHS has Connecticut down with 79,192 total enrollees as of 3/31 (the day they shut down the exchange). However, the actual number of paid enrollees as of 3/31 was actually 80,018.

That means that technically speaking, Connecticut has 1% more PAID enrollees than they actually had enroll!

Now, I don't know exactly what happened. Perhaps there was just a clerical error that missed the extra 826 people when they reported the numbers to HHS. Or perhaps HHS had a typo in their report. Either way, the fact that these are all paid enrollees means I can report it one of two ways:

1) Treat Connecticut the same as Washington State and Massachusetts: Report it as 100% paid.

2) Include the extra 7,000 unpaid signups, increasing the "total" by 7K but giving CT only a 92% payment rate.

Obviously I'm going to do the former...not because it makes the numbers "look better", but because it's more accurate. HHS didn't include the "extra" 7K, so there's absolutely nothing wrong with my not including them either. The only reason to count them (and therefore give a lower paid percent) would be if HHS had CT down as 87K, but they don't, so they don't belong on my spreadsheet either.

As for the extra 826 paid enrollees, fair is fair: If critics are going to attack a state where the paid number is lower than the official, HHS-approved one, then they also have to accept a state where the paid number is higher than the official one. I never figured that would happen, but here we are.

So, there you have it: Connecticut officially has 80,018 paid QHPs out of 79,192 total.

But wait, there's more!

But what surprised officials the most was the continued call volume after the end of the enrollment period.

Access Health CT is still receiving 3,000 to 4,000 calls per day.

“It hasn’t gone down appreciably and we don’t think it’s going to be,” Van Loon said.

He said about 50 percent of the calls relate to applications, most of which are Medicaid. Some have questions about how enrollment works.

Deputy Insurance Commissioner Anne Melissa Dowling said there are many people who have questions about the insurance policy they purchased because for many it’s the first time they have insurance.

“What did I just buy? A lot of newly insured people are saying, ‘What is a deductible?’,” Dowling said. “...We see that as a really positive situation. That they’re new consumers, new insurance, newly insured and so I strongly endorse keeping the call center open.”

NOW does anyone want to argue that the regular enrollment reports shouldn't continue in the off-season??