Here We Go: 9.54 Million QHPs confirmed: 2nd Monthly HHS Enrollment Report, broken down

Since the day I started this project (before it, really), I've been asking for the HHS Dept. to simply release the enrollment data in as much detail as possible on a frequent basis...and by frequent, I didn't mean "monthly"; that's far too long given the 24-hour, 24-second news and political cycle. For 7 months, the HHS Dept. ignored this plea, followed by another 6 months of not just ignoring it but actually going backwards on enrollment data (ie, cutting off even the monthly reports during the off-season). Fortunately, since November, they've done a total 180, issuing not only "weekly snapshot" reports giving the overall HC.gov enrollment numbers, but more recently breaking these down by all 37 states on a weekly basis. This is awesome!

The "downside", if there is one, of them making this welcome policy change is that it also means that the big monthly reports issued by the ASPE (Asst. Secretary for Planning & Evaluation) end up losing much of their "mystery". I already had a very good idea of what the 2nd monthly report (running from 11/15/14 - 1/15/15)would give as the official tally as far back as January 7th: Around 9.5 million QHP selections nationally through January 16th:

#ACASignups Oh, yeah: Pretty sure total QHPs will reach 9.5 million by midnight tonight: http://t.co/kVLdq3YIi6 #ACA #Obamacare #OE2

— Charles Gaba (@charles_gaba) January 16, 2015

However, here's the thing: While the last few days of the 2014 open enrollment period may have resembled the launch of a new Apple store, Sylvia Burwell is not Steve Jobs, the ACA exchanges are not a new iPhone, and the ASPE reports are not Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference. There's no legitimate reason to keep this information a Big Secret (even politically/spin-wise, I think playing it that way actually hurt the adminstration more than it helped last year).

In short, it may not be as sexy or exciting this way, but I think it's better this way.

In any event, last week's "weekly snapshot" happened to run through 1/16 (1 day later); combined with the other state data that I have, the confirmed QHP selection total was around 8.2 million as of 1/15 (the thru-dates vary a bit on the state-based exchanges). So really, the only question was whether the ASPE report would include the California & New York renewal numbers, which have remained a mystery throughout this enrollment period.

I've been expecting roughly 960K renewals from CoveredCA, plus another 320K or so from New York State of Health, for at total of around 1.25 million to be added to the 8.2 million or so (over 8.3 million as of this writing). That would bring the grand total to around 9.45 million as of January 15th.

So...now that the actual report is out?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015

Nationwide 9.5 million consumers are signed up for Health Insurance Marketplace coverage

87 percent who selected plans in states using HealthCare.gov are getting financial assistance to lower monthly premiums; 2.5 million young people have selected a plan or been reenrolled; consumers have until Feb. 15 to sign up for coverage

Nationwide, 9.5 million consumers selected or were automatically reenrolled in quality, affordable health insurance coverage from the Health Insurance Marketplace through the second month of 2015 Open Enrollment, according to a report released today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Of those, more than 7.1 million were in states using the HealthCare.gov platform and 2.4 million were in the 14 states (including Washington, D.C.) using their own Marketplace platforms. As the Feb. 15 deadline approaches, HHS encourages all eligible consumers to sign up for Marketplace coverage. Most will be eligible for financial assistance to lower the cost of monthly premiums.

Some important details:

Today’s report includes data for individuals who selected or were automatically reenrolled in coverage through Jan. 16 for the 37 states using the HealthCare.gov platform, and through Jan. 17 for the 12 states and Washington, D.C. using their own Marketplace platforms. Data for California is through Jan. 18. To have their coverage effectuated, consumers need to pay their first month’s health plan premium (today’s report does not include effectuated enrollment).

Hooray!! It includes the CA & NY renewals after all (which was obvious given the number, but it's still nice to see stated outright).

Detailed findings for the 37 states using the HealthCare.gov enrollment platform:

  • Through Jan. 16, 7.16 million people selected or were automatically reenrolled in a plan in the 37 states that are using the HealthCare.gov platform for 2015, including Oregon and Nevada. Of those:
  • 87 percent selected a plan with financial assistance;
  • 35 percent or 2.5 million were under 35 years of age; and
  • 58 percent (4.16 million) reenrolled in a Marketplace plan and 42 percent (3 million) selected a plan for the first time.

The exact number via HC.gov (thru 1/16/15) was already given out last week: 7,156,691

Detailed findings for the 14 states using state-based Marketplace enrollment platforms:

  • In the 14 states that are operating their own Marketplace platform for 2015, 2.4 million consumers selected or were automatically reenrolled in plans. Of those:
  • Approximately 300,000 Marketplace plan selections in are in the four states reporting data on new consumers and consumers actively reenrolling in Marketplace coverage (Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, and Massachusetts); and
  • Nearly 2.1 million Marketplace plan selections are in the 10 states reporting data on new enrollees, consumers actively reenrolling in Marketplace coverage, and automatic reenrollees (California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Kentucky, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington).
  • The states of California (1.2 million) and Florida (nearly 1.3 million) have had the highest plan selections to date.
  • The information contained in this report provides the most systematic summary of enrollment-related activity in the Marketplaces to date. Data for the various metrics are counted using comparable definitions for data elements across states and Marketplace types.
  • Open Enrollment in the Marketplace runs from Nov. 15, 2014, through Feb. 15, 2015. Consumers should visit HealthCare.gov to review and compare health plan options. Find local help at: Localhelp.healthcare.gov/. Or call the Federally-facilitated Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855- 889-4325. Translation services are available. The call is free.

The exact number via the other 14 states (thru 1/17/15 or 1/18/15 in the case of California) is included in today's report: 2,383,004

Add them up and you get exactly 9,539,695

Now, technically speaking, that exact number isn't precisely what it was as of January 16, because it includes 1 extra day for 13 of the state exchanges and 2 extra days for California. I have no clue why they did it that way, but whatever.

Really, though, enrollment dropped off dramatically for a few days after the 15th, because that was the February-start deadline in 46 states +DC (including California), so I don't imagine more than 10-15,000 of this came in on the 17th or 18th.

So, worst-case scenario, Iwas  off by 0.4%. Best-case scenario, I was off by, say, 0.2%.

This is picking nits, however. The bottom line is that the confirmed QHP number is now 9.54 million nationally, through (about) 10 days ago, which is pretty much exactly what I had it pegged at.

I'm especially proud to have nailed California (1,200,427); from page 38 of the report:

(5) California: The data that are being reported for California are for the following reporting period 11-15-14 --1-18-15. As of 1/18/15, plan selections for CA have been processed for 947,000 of 1,120,000 enrollees who entered the renewal process. As of 1-18-14, 0f the 947,000, 360,000 actively renewed their plan selections. The remaining 2014 enrollees are being transitioned to the Medicaid program or continue to be processed for renewal.

I estimated that around 960K of the 2014 CA enrollees had been renewed. If I'm reading this correctly, it looks like the actual number was 947K, with some (?) more still to come.

As for New York (357,241), that actually surprised me a bit; I was estimating around 320K renewals, which, when added to the 83K new enrollees they've confirmed would total around 403K...and that was as of 12/20. Instead it's coming in at around 46K lower than that. Furthermore:

(10) New York is currently unable to distinguish between Marketplace plan selections for the 2014 coverage year and Marketplace plan selections for the 2015 coverage year during the period 11-15-2014-12/31-2014. Therefore, the plan selection data that are reported by New York may include a small number of plan selections from new consumers who were approved for a special enrollment period for 2014 Marketplace coverage between 11-15-14 and 12-31-2014.

So, NY's total is coming up lower than I expected, but other states are coming in higher to more than make up the difference.