START OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD

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Updated: My 2015 QHP Projection still stands at 12.0M Total, 10.6M Paid

After yesterday's Obama Dentata* story broke, people asked whether I'm sticking with my official projections of 12 million QHP enrollments (total) and 10.6 million (paid). The answer is yes, and here's why:

  • First of all, yesterday I discovered that New York State has a much more aggressive target than I thought: 720,000 QHPs, which would be a whopping 94% increase over 2014 (I thought the 350K increase was QHPs + Medicaid combined, but Dan Goldberg of Capital New York specifically asked and was told nope, that's private QHPs only). It's a pretty tall order, but it's also a pretty confident/bold one. If they pull it off, that's 165,000 more people than I was projecting right there.
  • The numbers in so far are still extremely limited, but suggest a stronger start than even I was figuring (of course, that could just mean more people renewing/enrolling earlier rather than a total increase, but still). So far I've confirmed (or at least mostly confirmed) nearly 32,000 actual QHP enrollments in the first 5 days from just 10 states...and in many cases those numbers only reflect the first day or two. In Vermont (5 days), it only includes renewals, while in California (4 days), it only includes new enrollees.

In addition, it's important to remember that the 2015 renewal part of the total projections by both HHS (10.4M total, 9.1M paid) as well as myself (12.0M total, 10.6M paid) are based on what percentage of the existing enrollees are expected to re-up.

  • HHS thinks this will be 83%, which would have been 5.9M out of 7.1M. Since the true retention number as of October was only 6.7M, the same 83% would yield 5.56M, or 330,000 fewer people.
  • I think the retention rate will be higher. I originally went with 86% of 7.1M, or 6.1M renewing. At the lower 6.7M starting point, the renewal rate would have to be 91% in order to hold firm. Will it? No way of knowing yet, but it's certainly possible.

Anyway, we'll have to see. I might drop my projection after all...or, who knows, I might even increase it. In spite of the "guru" and "wizard" labels being tossed around, I don't have any mystical powers. Reality-based logic dictates that you change your assumptions when new evidence comes to light. As more hard, accurate data is released, I'll modify my projections accordingly...but I haven't seen enough to sway me so far.

UPDATE: OK, from HHS's official response to the dental policy error:

A mistake was made in calculating the number of individuals with effectuated Marketplace enrollments. We have determined that individuals who had both Marketplace medical and dental coverage were erroneously counted in our recent announcements. The correct number of individuals with effectuated Marketplace medical coverage as of October 15 is approximately 6.7 million. Our target for 2015 open enrollment remains 9.1 million individuals. Moving forward only individuals with medical coverage will be included in our effectuated enrollment numbers.

In other words, they're basically saying that they still expect around 5.9M renewals out of 6.7M (88%) instead of 5.9M out of 7.1M (83%).

If they're sticking with their 9.1 million (paid) estimate, I see no reason why I shouldn't stick with my own 10.6 million (paid) estimate...which means we're both sticking with 10.4 million (total) and 12.0 million (total) respectively.

*(I've been pushing "Obama Dentata" as the "official" idiotic media-buzzword term to describe yesterday's 380K dental plan HHS issue; so far no one has complained, and Esther F. has noted that technically speaking it just translates as "Toothed Obama" which is innocuous enough, so I guess I'll stick with it).