START OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD

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UPDATED: Washington State: 132K QHPs, 498K Medicaid; 180-190K looking more likely

The Washington State ACA exchange released updated 2015 enrollment numbers today, broken out by county, current through January 31st. They've even broken each county out between renewals from 2014 and new additions for 2015. The grand totals?

  • 87,528 QHP renewals + 44,779 new QHPs = 132,307 QHP selections total
  • 497,945 Medicaid expansion enrollees (note: these are specifically defined as expansion, so this does not include "woodworkers". It does, however, include people who joined the expansion program last year as well.

WA had 117,705 QHP selections as of 1/17, so they've added 14,602 since then, or 1,043 per day during the slowest patch of the enrollment period. At that rate they'll only add about 16K more by 2/15, to end with around 148K, a good 67K short of their goal. To reach their target of 215K, they'd have to ramp up this rate by nearly 5.5x to 5,500/day for the final two weeks. Somehow I don't see that happening; even my reduced target of 200K even would require 4,500/day, which will be quite a challenge. I'm now guessing that WA will end up with between 180-190K, which would still be about 15% higher than their April 2014 enrollment.

In some of the struggling states, the issue is adding new enrollees; in Washington's case, it seems to be more about the low renewal rate--only 87.5K out of around 136K of their 2014 enrollees re-upped, or 64%...a disturbingly low number (nationally, about 6.3 million people renewed...about 94% of the 6.7 million total).

Why is this? Well, according to the exchange, the success of their Medicaid expansion is actually the main reason why their private plan numbers are coming up short:

As of Jan. 31, more than 132,000 residents have enrolled in a Qualified Health Plan. The Exchange also released a county-by-county enrollment report today that shows the number of residents who have enrolled in a Qualified Health Plan or enrolled under Medicaid expansion for 2015 coverage.

Current enrollment data shows that a larger percentage of residents are qualifying for Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) than previously expected.

UPDATEJed Graham reminds me that Washington State was one of only two states (Massachusetts was the other) which only reported paid enrollments, not total selections last year. Assuming they're doing so this year as well, that 132K figure may actually be more along the lines of 150K or higher in terms of actual selections...but I'll have to look into that to be sure.