Washington State: 190,000 already enrolled for 2019 in first week...kind of/sort of.

2019 OPEN ENROLLMENT ENDS (most states)

Time: D H M S

Last year, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange reported enrolling roughly 4,500 new ACA exchange enrollees in the first 8 days, which was a whopping 53% increase over 2017. This was in addition to what I estimated was roughly 13,000 current enrollees actively renewing their existing policies or switching to a different one, for a total of perhaps 17,500 QHP selections.

This year, the WA exchange hasn't posted any official press release yet, but the Seattle Times claims that they've already enrolled over 190,000 people:

Despite changes to the Affordable Care Act during the past couple of years, local health-insurance officials are optimistic that the state’s health-insurance exchange will flourish in 2019.

Since enrollment for 2019 began Nov. 1, about 190,000 people have signed up for health insurance through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which is about 5 percent more than the same period last year.

Um...OK. Clearly there's a major discrepancy here. I'm fairly certain that no, the WA exchange has not enrolled nearly 11x as many people in the first week as they did last year. The article even says flat out that this is only a 5% increase (which still isn't bad). So what's going on here?

Michael Marchand, spokesman and chief marketing officer for the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, said the reason for the increase to this point is that there are more people renewing their health insurance through the exchange this year.

Hmmm...that still doesn't explain the discrepancy from last year. The only way 190,000 people "enrolled" in the first 8 days is if most of them are current enrollees who were automatically renewed. They still have over a month to cancel or alter their renewals, of course, so this is just a reporting discrepancy.

Washington’s exchange has seen an increase in sign-ups for health insurance. For 2018, about 209,000 people joined the exchange, a slight increase from 204,000 in 2017. About 60 percent of people on the exchange received a subsidy. Marchand is expecting a modest bump in enrollment for 2019, from 1 to 3 percent.

That 209,000 figure is actually the number of people who are enrolled in paid, effectuated policies in Washington state. The number of QHP selections was actually 243,000 as of late January, which means an attrition rate of around 14%, which actually isn't bad depending on what point in the year the 209K figure comes from.

Basically, this article tells me almost nothing about the state of the 2019 ACA Open Enrollment Period in Washington State, other than that they may be front-loading their automatic renewals up front instead of waiting until the tail end of the enrollment period. I'll update this post with clarification if I'm able to get any.

According to the insurance commissioner, about 406,470 residents, roughly 5.5 percent of the state’s population, are uninsured. King County has about 82,000 residents uninsured. Another 248,600 people are insured through health associations. Individuals and small businesses can buy insurance through these associations, which can get around ACA requirements.

There's another curious number later on in the article:

The battle over the ACA took a toll nationally, with about 8.7 million people signing up for health insurance through the federally run Healthcare.gov site, a reduction of about 4 million from 2017.

I have no idea where they got that second number. The 2017 figure for HealthCare.Gov was actually 9.2 million, not 12.7 million, which means a reduction of just 458,000 year over year, not 4 million. The only place where "12.7 million enrollments" belongs is for the total number of enrollees in the 2016 enrollment period.

Oddly, the article goes on to give the correct number for the state-based exchanges...except misses the 12th one (presumably DC, which isn't actually a state):

Three million people enrolled in the 11 states that run their own systems, of which Washington is one. Doing so has allowed the state to create a more stable insurance environment, said Marchand.