California: 329K *new* enrollees; 1.515M total thru 1/27; likely 1.6M enrollment ceiling?

This Just In...

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California announced that a surge of consumers interested in affordable, quality health care coverage had signed up through the agency this week. Through Jan. 27, more than 329,000 new enrollees had picked a health coverage plan during the current open-enrollment period. In addition, more than 148,000 new and renewing consumers had enrolled in the new optional family dental coverage.

As always, CoveredCA is happy to tout their new enrollees but has a weird thing about keeping mum on the number who renewed policies from 2015. This would make sense if the renewal number sucked, but it doesn't: The ASPE report through 12/27 clearly states that they had 1,411,664 QHP selections, of which 84% were renewals (automatic or active) by 2015 enrollees.

84% of 1,411,664 = roughly 1,186,000. Add 329K to that and you get 1.515 million QHP selections to date.

For the life of me I can't fathom why Covered CA keeps refusing to release this number, especially since the HHS ASPE report already did so. I suppose there could be a significant drop after purging cancelled/terminated enrollees, but that's normal. It's just weird that they have this policy (which was the same last year).

Anyway, that's a net gain of 39,000 since 1/18, or over 4,300 per day.

My personal target for the state is 1.8 million, while their internal projection, based on "backing out" their annual budget, seems to be anywhere from 1.7 - 1.9 million.

Assuming no final weekend surge, Covered CA should still rack up at least another 17K for a total of at least 1.53 million, which would come up over a quarter-million short, but it's safe to assume there will be at least some last-minute surge. Assuming a 3-4x increase, that should bring in perhaps 60,000 more people by Sunday, or 1.58 million total. It could jump over the 1.6 million mark if the surge is large enough, but I suspect that's the cap.

That would leave CA about 200K shy of my projection or 100K short of their own (apparent) low end. On the other hand, they'd still be over 10% higher than last year, which isn't bad.

“If you haven’t looked at your new coverage options, you’ve still got time to get covered," said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “Don’t gamble with your health or your financial future. Enroll now and protect yourself from medical bills that can cost you tens of thousands of dollars if you get sick or injured.”

The agency also revealed that consumers had placed more than 120,000 calls to Covered California’s Service Center over the last three days, with wait times averaging less than three minutes.

Lee said Covered California has hundreds of Service Center representatives, and tens of thousands of Certified Insurance Agents and other certified enrollers ready to assist consumers over the phone or in person.

Covered California’s announcement comes one day after President Barack Obama urged uninsured Californians to take action now and enroll in a health care plan before the upcoming Jan. 31 deadline.

“Heaven forbid you get a serious illness or there’s a traffic accident in the family. You can lose your house. You can lose everything you've worked for,” Obama said. “Right now, in California, you can get health care that is high quality for less than the price of your cellphone bill.”

...The Affordable Care Act requires most Americans to have health insurance or pay a penalty known as the “shared responsibility payment.” The payment is calculated two different ways, and uninsured consumers will pay whichever amount is higher. The first calculation is 2.5 percent of your household income, with a maximum of the total yearly premium for the national average Bronze plan premium. The second calculation is $695 per adult plus $347.50 per child under the age of 18, with a maximum of $2,085.