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2015 CA Enrollment Data Released: 49K *new* QHPs thru 12/03 (Update: Est. 98K+ total QHPs)

Just moments ago, CoveredCA head Peter Lee held a conference call in which he issued the first full 2015 open enrollment period data (until now, the only number released was 11,357 QHPs in the first 4 days...except that only included new enrollees, not renewals).

As I noted yesterday, I estimated appx. 397K QHPs through Monday (12/08). I'm also guessing it'll be about a 55/45 split between renewals of existing enrollees & new additions.

The actual number of NEW QHP enrollments turns out to be: From 11/15 - 12/03: 130K determined elgiible, of whom 48,950 have selected plans...

Hmmm. Well, now...on the surface, this makes it look like I was way off, overestimating by a whopping 8-fold factor.

HOWEVER, there are two rather important (and unexpected) points which make that comparison impossible:

First, while the original press advisory said the data would run through 12/08 (24 days), they actually only included data through 12/03 (19 days). Not only is that a 21% shorter period, it's also skewed since it includes the "dead" Thanksgiving weekend but doesn't include the past week, when enrollments ramped up.

My model suggests that CoveredCA should have hit around 275K as of 12/03. That would still make me way off, by around 5.6x.

Secondly, however, that number also only includes new enrollees, not renewals. HC.gov has reported roughly a 50/50 split across 37 states for 2 weeks running, and I assumed about a 55/45 split between renewals and new enrollments. That would mean 124,000 new enrollees vs. the 48,950 reported.

That would still mean I overstated it by a good 2.5x factor.

The only way that I was on target would be if the actual ratio was around 82/18 renewals vs. new...which is possible, but probably not likely.

In short, I appear to have blown this call pretty badly...but have no way of knowing for sure one way or another...because Lee also stated (twice) that they do not plan on releasing any data on renewals / re-enrollments until January, by which point this particular snapshot will be lost in the ether anyway. Gah.

Meanwhile, they also announced that they've enrolled about 160,000 more people in Medi-Cal (Medicaid), of which 75% are already fully enrolled with the other 25% still being processed.

They also noted that the massive Medi-Cal backlog from last summer/fall has been whittled down to "under 100K".

So...um...there you have it. I was probably off by up to 80% on this one...but haven't a clue whether that's the case or not.

(sigh) Anyway, until I hear otherwise, I'm going to assume that CA is operating on at least a 50/50 renewals vs. new basis, which means I'm estimating their total QHP selections as being at least 98,000 through 12/03.

UPDATE: Here's the official press release, though it doesn't really give any additional details (and for some bizarre reason, they bury the rather important fact that the 48,952 figure only includes new QHP enrollees, not renewals).

CALIFORNIA CONSUMER DEMAND FOR HEALTH COVERAGE CONTINUES TO BE STRONG AS RECORD NUMBERS APPLY

Nearly 300,000 Applications Submitted in Early Days of Second Year

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — More than 290,000 new consumers submitted applications and were determined eligible for private health insurance or Medi-Cal in the early weeks of open enrollment, Covered California and the California Department of Health Care Services announced Wednesday.

The consumers, who applied for coverage through Covered California since open enrollment began on Nov. 15, include 48,952 Covered California plan selections and 81,287 eligibility determinations through Dec. 3, as well as 116,262 enrollments into Medi-Cal coverage, and 44,295 who are likely eligible for Medi-Cal. So far in 2014, Medi-Cal has enrolled more than 2.2 million consumers.

“The pace of enrollment is strong, at rates far exceeding those we saw last year, but open enrollment is only three months long this time around, so we are working hard to continue to get the word out,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said. “As we approach the Dec. 15 deadline to enroll for coverage starting Jan. 1, we encourage everyone in California to explore their options and get covered for 2015.”

“It’s clear that Californians’ desire for health coverage remains strong, and the improvements in the enrollment system are making a big difference,” Toby Douglas, director of the Department of Health Care Services, said. “About 75 percent of new applicants who qualify for Medi-Cal through the Web portal are enrolled immediately into coverage — without delay. We’ll continue our work to make quality, comprehensive coverage more easily available to all Californians.”

Although private insurance sold through Covered California is only available during open enrollment for most consumers, Medi-Cal enrollment is year-round. Individuals may apply for Medi-Cal online, through the Covered California Web portal, via mail by filling out a streamlined application and in person by visiting a county social services office.

The new figures released Wednesday show that Covered California has enrolled consumers at a far faster pace in the early days of open enrollment in 2014 than it did during 2013.

In 2014, it took just 19 days to reach the 2014 enrollment numbers shown in the table above. By comparison, it took 42 days (six weeks) to reach the same number of eligibility determinations in 2013 and 28 days (four weeks) to reach the same number of plan selections in 2013.

Leading up to the Dec. 15 deadline for coverage starting Jan. 1, Covered California is partnering with community-based efforts across the state to promote enrollment, including:

  • Promoting more than 40 health coverage enrollment events between Dec. 11 and Dec. 14 at libraries, schools and malls, including the Ontario 5K Reindeer Run, the Pasadena Career Fair, Mission Valley Mall and the National Orange Show Swapmeet. (Visit www.CoveredCA.com/get-help/local/events/ to find enrollment events.)
  • Sending more than 10 million email marketing messages to Californians most likely to be uninsured, to encourage enrollment by Dec. 15. 
  • Airing English and Spanish TV and radio advertising statewide encouraging enrollment in Covered California by Dec. 15 for coverage starting Jan. 1, 2015.
  • Expanding the social media messaging about the Dec. 15 deadline via Facebook and Twitter in English and Spanish.
  • Building on Covered California’s partnership with physicians, pharmacists, physician assistants, medical groups and hospitals statewide to promote enrollment in health coverage. More than 172,000 individual health professionals have been mailed materials to promote open enrollment as part of the “I’m In” campaign in doctor’s offices, pharmacies, medical groups and hospitals statewide. (Read more about this partnership at http://news.CoveredCA.com/2014/12/leading-physicians-medical-groups.html.)  
  • Distributing a co-branded letter from leading immigrant-rights organizations and Covered California to assure applicants that they can apply for coverage without fear their information will be shared with immigration authorities. (Read more at http://news.CoveredCA.com/2014/12/covered-california-partners-with.html.)

While the Dec. 15 deadline is important for those who want their coverage to start Jan. 1, open enrollment continues through Feb. 15. Consumers wishing to apply can go to the Covered California website at www.CoveredCA.com and click “Find Local Help.”

More than 12,000 Certified Insurance Agents, 10,000 county eligibility workers and more than 6,000 Certified Enrollment Counselors are partnering with Covered California, ready to help provide free, confidential assistance to enroll consumers in person.

Covered California’s Service Center remains open with extended hours this weekend, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Lee encouraged consumers to use the Covered California website’s "Shop and Compare Tool” so they can preview plans side by side and select coverage that best suits their budget and health care needs.

“Most consumers who sign up through Covered California are likely eligible to receive financial assistance to help them pay for coverage, as were about 1 million Californians who enrolled last year,” Lee said.

The data Covered California released today relates to new enrollment only since open enrollment began on Nov. 15. Data about those consumers renewing their 2014 coverage will be released sometime in early 2015.