2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

UPDATE:VIRGINIA: D'OH!!! The solution was staring me in the face all along...

So, yesterday I posted my first 2017 Weighted Average Rate Hike entry, using Virginia, since they appear to be the first state to post their requested rate changes for 2017.

As you can see, while the requested rate increases stayed consistent throughout the various updates, the number of enrollees changed dramatically depending on which filing source I used. Case in point: Anthem/HealthKeepers Inc.

The first filing I found for Anthem HealthKeepers made it pretty clear that they're asking for a 15.8% average rate hike next year which is expected to potentially impact up to 122,581 policy holders:

Pretty cut & dry, right? Note that according to the filing that number covers current Anthem HealthKeepers enrollees both on and off the exchange, so it should cover all ACA-compliant policies.

HOWEVER, according to this cover letter, submitted as part of the same batch of forms as the one above, they're actually expecting the rate hikes to impact 190,000 Virginians:

The letter doesn't mention the 15.8% figure, but it does list the low and high range, which matches exactly with the 9.3%  and 22.6% listed in the other form, so this is definitely referring to the same policies.

So, how big of a deal is this? Well, let's go back to my table from yesterday:

As you can see, with 122.5K enrollees, Anthem's 15.8% hike request results in an overall average increase of 17.86%.

If you replace this with 190,000 people, however, without changing anything else, it looks like this:

The state-wide weighted average drops by 4/10ths of a percentage point based on this edit alone.

Don't get me wrong, a 17.5% hike still isn't pretty, but this at least illustrates what a pain in the ass it is to try and estimate these things, and once again shows that you have to take the headlines which we'll no doubt be seeing all summer and early fall with a huge grain of salt.

UPDATE: D'OH!! A huge thank you to FarmbellPSU in the comments for pointing out the obvious--that 122,581 figure from the actual filing refers to the number of policy holdersNOT the number of covered lives!

The next four pages after that give the number of covered lives for each individual plan...and when you add them all up, voila, they add up to roughly 190,000 people!

Fortunately, the other carrier filings didn't separate out every individual plan, but instead grouped "covered lives" into larger categories, so I was able to plug in the correct numbers more easily than Anthem.

Funny thing is, the ratio of covered lives to policyholders stayed about the same across all of the carriers, which means that the weighted average still ends up roughly the same:

Yup...17.83%, which is almost exactly what it was in the first place (17.86%). The relative market shares stayed the same, but the grand total did go up substantially, to 420,000.

Virginia enrolled about 422,000 people through the exchange...but the off-exchange ACA-compliant policies are still missing, so the matching number is a coincidence. The remaining individual enrollees can presumably be found in the blank Humana and Coventry lines.

So, how many are missing? Hard to say. Nationally, I've spitballed the off-exchange individual market (not including grandfathered/transitional policies) at roughly 6 million. If this is accurate and proportional in Virginia, that should mean around 650,000 state-wide, or roughly 230,000 missing enrollees, but I have no way of knowing that. It's possible that Virginia only has around 100K ACA-compliant off-exchange.

In any event, Humana and Coventry appear to be being dropped in Virginia's individual market, so without knowing how much their enrollees were paying (or where they'll move to next year), it's impossible to factor them into a weighted average. So, until further notice, it looks like I had it right in the first place: Virginia's requested average 2017 rate  hike is around 17.9%.