2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

Washington State: 107K QHPs; Medicaid up 119K; SHOP enrolls...9 (CORRECTED)

At long last (well, by my standards anyway), the Washington State exchange has released updated enrollment numbers, and the results are...well, kind of all over the place.

First up, of course, is the private QHP enrollment figure:

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Healthplanfinder today announced that more than 107,000 residents have signed up or renewed their Qualified Health Plan through wahealthplanfinder.org for coverage that started on Jan. 1. Approximately 26 percent of current Qualified Health Plan enrollees have signed up through Washington Healthplanfinder for the first time.

In addition, 471,602 new adults have accessed coverage through Washington Apple Health (Medicaid). The total number of residents who are currently enrolled under Medicaid expansion and in Qualified Health Plans totals nearly 580,000.

...Currently, 60 percent of customers who were enrolled in 2014 coverage have taken action to renew their coverage for 2015. Any remaining customers must return to their online account or contact the toll-free Customer Support Center to reconfirm their eligibility for financial help, select a health plan and submit their payment.

Updated enrollment totals through Dec. 31, 2014 are included below:

Currently Enrolled:

  • Qualified Health Plans - New: 27,753
  • Qualified Health Plan Renewals: 79,318
  • Total: 107,071

Hmmm...that means that there were around 132,000 people enrolled in 2014 policies by mid-November, and around 52,000 of them haven't renewed or re-enrolled their policies as of yet. That's a bit bothersome, considering that many (not all) of Washington's enrollees had the option to "autorenew" (I believe you had to have checked off a little box on your application form last year in order to qualify for this in WA).

For comparison, I had just reported that Rhode Island, one of the few states which didn't offer any sort of autorenewal process, managed to get 78% of their 2014 enrolees to re-up.

Anyway, WA starts the year off with just over 107K, or almost exactly halfway to their goal for mid-February (215K), and only 40% of my own target for them (250K). This is the lowest performance of the 13 states for which I have reasonably complete numbers (that is, where their renewals/autorenewals are all reported), and is a bit troubling. I'm sure it's no coincidence that WA is also the state which seems to have had the worst technical problems this time around.

Meanwhile, on the Medicaid side, things get a bit confusing, but for a (hopefully) good reason: ACA-enabled Medicaid enrollment, while still an impressive 471K, is actually over 80,000 lower than the 552K it was at a few months ago. I'm assuming that this is because the improving economy has resulted in 80,000 people's economic situations improving to the point that they no longer qualified for the program.

UPDATE: OK, strike that. The WA exchange has already informed me that the 80K difference is simply due to them no longer including "woodworkers" in their reports whatsoever (which I guess makes sense, since those people are technically no longer "woodworkers" a year later anyway).

So, that means that instead of being 80K lower than the last update, the number of WA residents enrolled via "strict" ACA expansion is actually 119,000 higher than the 352K it was back in early September! Confusing, yes, but also impressive when you put it that way.

Also noteworthy: According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, as of Fall 2013, WA State had around 449,000 residents who could potentially be added to Medicaid, either via ACA expansion or who fell into the "woodworker" category. That means that even if you ignore the 200K "woodworkers" from last year completely, WA has still exceeded this number using just "strict" expansion additions.

Of course it could also mean that the KFF estimate was way off to begin with...

Finally, there's the SHOP (small business) enrollment figures. I didn't talk about SHOP plans much last year because, frankly, the small biz exchanges weren't even working in most states for technical reasons. As a result, there were only around 78,000 people enrolled in these plans nationally, most of which were either in Vermont (where small business insurance has to run through the exchange...sort of...long story) or DC (where the ACA requires all Congressional staffers to enroll via the DC SHOP exchange for some reason or another).

This year, the SHOP system is supposely working just fine in just about every state, but I've only confirmed around 21,000 SHOP enrollees from 5 states...and today's news out of WA isn't going to move that needle much:

Washington Healthplanfinder Business

Accounts Created: 1,945

Total Completed Applications – Link Sent to Employees: 39

Total Enrollments – Employee Plan Selection Complete: 9