2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

UPDATED: REVISED QHP PROJECTIONS: 7.9M by 12/23; 9.0M by 1/15; 12.5M by 2/15/15

OK, I've been considering this for a few days now, but I wanted to wait for the actual 3rd week HC.gov snapshot to come in before committing to it.

Until now, I've kept my 2015 Open Enrollment Period projections pretty solid: 7.0 million by Dec. 15th; 8.0 million by Jan. 15th and 12.0 million by February 15th.

Of that 12.0 million total, I figured that around 88% will (eventually) pay for at least their first month's premium, or around 10.6 million.

As for the 7.0 million 12/15 projection, that was including several million automatic renewals and assumed that all 50 states (plus DC) would have a 12/15 cut-off for January 1st coverage. As it turns out, that isn't the case--5 states have later January deadlines: 12/18 for MD and 12/23 for MA, ID, WA & RI, which means the big December surge will be spread out a bit more than I thought (of course, 3 of these states require everyone to manually renew anyway...or at least, to do so if they wish to receive tax credits, so the autorenewal issue is kind of moot for them).

The autorenewal question is still a huge one. In theory, up to 6.7 million people could potentially be autorenewed (except not really...again, several hundred thousand of these have to manually renew/re-enroll, so the actual potential pool of autorenewals is a bit lower; perhaps 6.3 million or so (?). I've been operating on the assumption that perhaps 6.1 million will renew, but until now I haven't tried to guess how many of those would be automatic renewals.

However, with 3 weeks worth of HC.gov data in, plus hard data from most of the state-run exchanges, the numbers so far seem to indicate that overall, roughly half of the estimated 2.63 million QHP selections are renewals. I presume that this percentage will only increase over the next few days leading up to the 12/15 (or 12/18 - 12/23) deadlines.

Based on this, as well as anecdotal evidence from major insurers, I now expect the total not including autorenewals to hit around 4.5 million by 12/15, with another 2.9 million autorenewals being piled on all at once the next day, with a breakdown of something like the following:

  • 3.0 million MANUAL renewals/re-enrollments
  • 1.5 million NEW enrollments
  • 2.9 million AUTOMATIC renewals

The ratio between these three will likely be somewhat different from the above, but however it breaks out, I'm increasing my 12/15/14 projection from 7.0 million up to around 7.4 million.

Things should drop off substantially across most states after that, except for the 5 noted above, which should result in a minor "mini-surge" over the next week, which I figure will bring the total up to around 7.7 million by 12/23.

Christmas, New Year's and the first week of January should then be pretty quiet, with a second "mini-surge" happening as January 15th approaches, which I'm now projecting should hit roughly 9.0 million (1M higher than I've estimated until now).

Finally, the last leg of OE2, from 1/16/15 - 2/15/15 should play out pretty much as I had already estimated...except that I'm bumping up my total QHP enrollment figure by half a million, to 12.5 million as of February 15th.

As a result of this, I also expect the paid QHP total to go up accordingly, from 10.6M up to 11.0M even.

Essentially, I expect the total number to go up a half million, with another half million simply "shifting" from the 3rd month to the 1st month.

In light of all of these changes, I've also enhanced The Graph with several new features:

  • I've added dashed projection lines showing how I anticipate enrollments flowing all the way through 2/15/15
  • I've also added a dashed line showing where HealthCare.Gov plan selections should be at any given time (basically, 75% of the national total)
  • IMPORTANT: It's also conceivable that HHS and/or some of the state exchanges may still extend their Jan. 1 coverage deadlines out further (like they did last year), in which case this model could change substantially, of course.

UPDATE 12/16/14: OK, after thinking over today's news, I've decided to bump up my short-term projections a bit after all...but not the final 2/15 total just yet:

  • Instead of 4.5 million as of 12/15, I've already bumped up my estimate for last night to 4.7 million
  • Instead of 7.4 million as of...well, today...I'm bumping my "including autorenewals" total up to 7.6 million
  • Instead of 7.7 million as of 12/23, I'm bumping my estimate up to 7.9 million

However, I'm not increasing my estimates of total QHP enrollments for 1/15 (still holding at 9.0 million) or 2/15 (still holding at 12.5 million), although I still may do so in the future.

As a result, The Graph now looks like the following: