START OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD

Time: D H M S

BOOM: Week 5 HC.gov Snapshot: 804K, 2.84M cumulative (off by 4.4% / 1.2%)

I have a doctor's appointment myself this afternoon which I have to leave for soon (irony!!), so the second half of my weekly analysis (state level) will have to wait until I get back, but here's the major story.

With the December 15th deadline just 1 week away and the December Surge starting to kick in, CMS decided to hold a full press conference call this morning ahead of the Week 5 HC.gov Snapshot report.

Last Thursday, as you'll recall, after an initial lower number, I made the following projection:

UPDATE 12/03/15: OK, strike that. This has been nagging at me all day. I'm bumping my HC.gov Week Five projection up further to 840,000 for 11/29 - 12/05 (2.88 million cumulatively), or around 3.77 million nationally.

Here's the actual numbers, released by CMS just moments ago:

Aside from having come within 4.4% this week (I overshot slightly this time...840K vs. 804K), there's some other important data points here.

First, notice that the number of new enrollees broke over 1 million as of Saturday (around 1,024,000), an important milestone in a year where adding new people to the tally is expected to become increasingly more difficult.

Second, notice that the number of current enrollees who had actively re-enrolled as of 12/05 was around 1.82 million. Normally this wouldn't be that significant, but during the conference call, CMS also dropped one other crucially important data point: "this year, over 25% of current enrollees have actively renewed."

At the time, they were just trying to point out that current enrollees are more engaged/likely to actively renew than last year, when it was only "in the teens" percentage-wise at this point. However, this "1/4 have renewed already" tidbit tells me something else that's pretty important.

  • If 1.82 million current enrollees have renewed already, and...
  • If 25% of current enrollees have renewed already...
  • That means that there's roughly 7.2 million people still currently enrolled in 2015 policies via HC.gov states.

Since HC.gov makes up roughly 76% of all ACA exchange enrollees, that in turn suggests that nationally, there should be roughly 9.4 million people still enrolled in effectuated policies...which, as it happens, is right in between my projection of 9.7 million and HHS's official projection (which they've stuck with since over a year ago) of 9.1 million. This also pretty much splits the difference between the evidence from 8 state exchanges (suggesting the number is still very close to June's 10 million) versus that from 8 major insurance carriers (which suggested the number had dropped to 9 million or below).

Without knowing the currently-effectuated numbers from large state-based exchanges like Covered California or New York State of Health, I can't be certain of this, but the September data from 8 other state exchanges had it virtually even with the June figures, so unless CA and NY had substantial attrition since then, I think I'm on pretty safe ground here.

Like last week, here's the year over year comparison (again, not quite apples to apples since Open Enrollment started 2 weeks earlier this year, but still significant since the deadline for January coverage has not changed:

  • As of 12/05/14: 1.38M total QHP selections
  • As of 12/05/15: 2.84M total QHP selections (over 2x as many 10 days ahead of the deadline)
  • As of 12/05/14: 664K new QHP selections
  • As of 12/05/15: 1.02M new QHP selections (over 50% more new enrollees 10 days ahead of the deadline)

They also noted that over 2 million people have utilized HC.gov's new features ("Total Out of Pocket Cost"/"In Network Lookup") so far.

At the state level, CMS gave out a few specific numbers, which are laid out in more detail in the actual snapshot report:

  • Louisiana, South Carolina and Tennessee have already surpassed last year's 12/15 numbers (with 10 days to go)
  • Alabama is about to do so at around 64.5K QHP selections as of 12/05
  • Large States: Florida is at nearly 600,000 QHPs; Texas is at 317,000
  • Maine is at 24,396, Indiana at 47,000, Oregon 50K, New Mexico 15K

Beyond that, a few other tidbits:

  • Enrollees of Tennessee's Co-Op (shutting down at the end of December), Community Health Alliance, have an extended deadline; they have until New Year's Eve to enroll with a different carrier for coverage starting January 1st.
  • They also wanted to remind people (especially in Alabama, where I guess there were some major layoffs recently?) that the tax credits are based on your estimate of 2016 incomeNOT your actual 2015 income.

OK, here's the actual state numbers...again, more later this afternoon when I get back: