Description: A surprisingly broad range of resources and options are available to streamline enrollment and to lower consumers’ health care and coverage costs in the individual market. Learn about promising, innovative strategies tailored to fit very different political conditions.
John-Pierre Cardenas, MSPH, Independent Health Policy Adviser, formerly Maryland Health Benefits Exchange
Charles Gaba, ACASignups.net
Heather Howard, J.D., Center for Health & Wellbeing, Woodrow School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
he commemoration of Dr. King’s 91st birthday will include parades in both Los Angeles and Sacramento where Covered California will participate.
Covered California representatives, including executive director Peter V. Lee, will join members of Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in participating in Los Angeles’ Kingdom Day Parade.
In addition, Covered California staff will join thousands of others in Sacramento’s March for the Dream parade.
Covered California is committed to ensuring that the rich diversity of people in the state have access to quality health care.
Open enrollment is underway, and people have through Jan. 31 to sign up for coverage and see if they are eligible for financial help.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California will help celebrate the 91st birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, by having a contingent of leaders honor the civil rights icon by participating in parades in both Los Angeles and Sacramento.
I've written several times before about how health insurance risk pools work. I even whipped up a crude video explainer about them a couple of years back. The healthiness or lack thereof of a given risk pool is the biggest factor involved in determining how expensive or inexpensive insurance policy premiums will be.
This year, my own family became a perfect example of this. Unlike most health insurance horror stories you often hear about, the final results in our case are positive...although we did go through a brief panic attack period before getting there.
My wife and I are both self-employed, and have a few recurring medical issues. We have one child, a teenager with Asperger's syndrome and a (fortunately fairly mild) case of cerebral palsy, which means long-term physical therapy and some other recurring medical expenses. Since we'd max out the deductible on a Silver plan each year, we've been enrolled in an ACA exchange Gold HMO plan since 2015. It's expensive even with partial subsidies, but we don't want to risk a major hole in coverage if at all possible.
DENVER — Nearly 167,000 Coloradans signed up for a health insurance plan through the state’s official Marketplace by the end of the Open Enrollment period, according to preliminary data released today by Connect for Health Colorado.
Among the 2020 plan selections, about 20 percent are by customers who are new to Connect for Health Colorado and 80 percent are returning customers.
“This has been another successful Open Enrollment period,” said Chief Executive Officer Kevin Patterson. “Now the work continues to increase access, affordability and choice for residents. We are fully engaged with partners at the state and in the legislature to advise and help implement innovative approaches to lower the cost of health care and increase choice.”
However, in the wake of that back & forth, a Twitter follower of mine, a woman of color who goes by the handle @Kamalaallday, posted an angry rant which I felt lent a lot of insight as to why many in the black community aren't nearly as keen on "Medicare for All" as envisioned by Sanders and other M4All activists as you might expect.
I already knew about some of her complaints and concerns below, but not all of it. Instead of putting words in her mouth, I'm just gonna let her speak for herself.
I've embedded the first tweet directly, but have converted the rest of the thread into bullets and reworked the structure (putting half-sentences together and adding paragraph breaks, etc.) for easier readability, but have otherwise left her entire thread as is. I strongly advise that folks read it all...food for thought:
The calculation doesn’t include the last day of open enrollment, but Access Health officials reported Thursday that enrollment was down 2.7% in 2020.
An estimated 106,376 Connecticut residents enrolled with either ConnectiCare or Anthem Health Plans. That’s fewer than the estimated 111,066 who signed up for coverage last year.
I'm not sure where she gets 2.7%...that's a 4.2% drop year over year. They tacked on another 200 or so per day over the final week or so...if you assume a small surge on the final day they might top out at 107K, which would be perhaps a 3.7% drop.
A few more useful data nuggets:
It was the fourth year in a row that there was a drop in customers qualifying for federal tax credits to off-set the cost of the monthly premiums. An estimated 69% of those who enrolled this year are eligible for a subsidy. That’s a drop from 78% in 2016.
Certified In-Person Assistors Provide Enrollment Opportunities at MLK Day Events Across the State Leading up to January 31 Enrollment Deadline
ALBANY, N.Y. (January 16, 2020) – NY State of Health, the State’s official health plan Marketplace, today announced participation in several Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day events being held throughout the State. Certified In-Person Assistors will be at events celebrating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to ensure New Yorkers have access to high-quality, affordable health care and to answer questions regarding enrolling or re-enrolling through the Marketplace. All events are open to the public.
“We are excited to meet New Yorkers at events celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to help them find a quality, low-cost health plan during Open Enrollment,” said NY State of Health Executive Director Donna Frescatore. “Enrollment in a 2020 Qualified Health Plan runs through January 31, and our participation in these events offers New Yorkers another opportunity to complete the enrollment process.”
Covered California Continues to See Strong Interest and Reminds Consumers That Penalty Is Back for 2020 as Open-Enrollment Deadline Approaches
More than 269,000 consumers have newly enrolled during the current open-enrollment period, which continues in California through Jan. 31.
A new law requires Californians to have health insurance in 2020 or face a penalty when they file their taxes with the Franchise Tax Board in 2021.
The penalty can be $2,000 or more for a family of four.
New research shows that many Californians, particularly the uninsured, are unaware of the new penalty or the new financial help that is available for the first time this year.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California announced new data as it approaches the final two weeks of the annual open-enrollment period and reminded consumers about the new state penalty and additional financial help that went into effect with the new year.
As of Saturday, Jan. 4, more than 269,000 consumers had newly signed up for health insurance through Covered California during the current open-enrollment period, which is an increase of 18 percent above the number of consumers who had enrolled at this time last year. In addition, more than 1.15 million existing Covered California members have renewed their coverage for 2020.
Latino leaders to discuss state of enrollment opportunities at 6th Annual Hispanic Leadership Health Forum; Enrollment and outreach events scheduled throughout DC
Despite national studies showing the Latino community saw the biggest drops in uninsured rates thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the uninsured rate for Latinos continues to be significantly higher than in other minority communities, according to a United States Census report.
DC Health Link, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Latino Affairs (MOLA), the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and many community-based organizations, will host its annual, action-packed week of intensive enrollment and outreach activities during its Annual Hispanic Enrollment Week of Action. DC Health Link is using this Week of Action to accelerate outreach efforts to promote, educate and motivate Latino enrollment in quality, affordable health insurance. The Hispanic Enrollment Week of Action runs through January 19, 2020.
This is the last in my 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidate Healthcare Policy series. In some cases I did wonky, in-depth analyses; in others I've simply given an overview with some notes here and there.
Andrew Yang's falls into the latter category, not because of any bias against him, but simply due to a lack of time on my part to give it a more detailed review.
Officially, Yang supports "Medicare for All", but like several other candidates both now and in the past, this isn't quite the same "Medicare for All" that Bernie Sanders is pushing (and which Elizabeth Warren is mostly still pushing):
We are having the wrong conversation on healthcare.
Instead of addressing the underlying problems driving unaffordability and access, we Democrats are spending all our time arguing over who is the most zealous in wanting to cover Americans. Over who has wanted to do so longer. Over who cares more about the health of Americans.
On Wednesday, January 15, 2020, the Massachusetts Health Connector embarks on a one-day, multi-city tour that includes stops at six locations along the North and South Shore to remind Massachusetts residents there is still time to get 2020 health coverage before Open Enrollment ends January 23.
On Wednesday, January 15, 2020, the Massachusetts Health Connector holds its “Day of Coverage” featuring activities across the Commonwealth designed to help people #GetCovered with health insurance for the new year.“Day of Coverage” activities will be held in Boston, Hyannis, Lawrence, New Bedford, and Lowell.
Open Enrollment is happening now and runs through January 23, 2020. Massachusetts residents who want to enroll in coverage or switch plans to start February 1, must sign up through the Health Connector by January 23rd.
Residents can sign up for coverage at www.MAhealthconnector.org, over the phone at 1-877-MA-ENROLL (1-877-623-6765), or in person through a local navigator organization.
via the official CNN Democratic Debate Transcript (Part 1, Part 2)
PHILLIP: Let's turn to health care, the top issue for Iowa Democrats. Donald Trump is trying to repeal Obamacare, including the protections for pre-existing conditions. We all know that each of you vigorously opposes that. Still, there are some questions about what each of you would do.
This was the only time throughout the entire healthcare portion of the debate that anyone said a peep about the Texas vs. Azar lawsuit...and it wasn't even one of the candidates; it was the moderator.
Senator Sanders, you have consistently refused to say exactly how much your Medicare For All plan is going to cost. Don't voters deserve to see the price tag before you send them a bill that could cost tens of trillions of dollars?
With the Texas vs. Azar lawsuit (aka #TexasFoldEm) dangling over everyone's heads like the Sword of Damocles, Kaiser Family Foundation CEO Drew Altman has a short piece up over at Axios which notes that the sick irony of this whole stupid situation is that the ACA itself is clearly doing at least reasonably well without the mandate penalty being in place anyway...completely undermining the entire case of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit:
The ACA is doing fine without a mandate penalty
The Affordable Care Act’s insurance market has not been materially affected by the elimination of the individual mandate penalty — undercutting a key argument in the lawsuit urging the courts to strike down the health care law.
Close To 20 Percent Of Access Health CT Customers Still Need To Submit Verification Documents To Stay Covered
Customers can scan and submit verification documents at Enrollment Fairs, via mail or online
Some AHCT customers will receive letters in the mail requesting specific documents to confirm information in their application.
Documents can be submitted online, at an Enrollment Fair where documents can be scanned and uploaded immediately or by mail.
Failure to submit documents by the deadline can result in loss of coverage or financial help.
HARTFORD, Conn. (January 13, 2020)—Open Enrollment to sign up for a 2020 health insurance plan through Access Health CT (AHCT) ends at midnight on Wednesday, January 15, 2020. Connecticut residents can still enroll online, over the phone, or in-person at any of our Enrollment Fairs or five Enrollment Locations—and some might need to submit verification documents.
Located across Colorado, these events provide educational and enrollment information about health insurance coverage, the application process and financial help through Connect for Health Colorado. While you can’t complete enrollment at all of these events, they are a great opportunity to talk with our network of trusted, certified experts and to schedule appointments.
Pueblo Get Covered is hosting an open enrollment on Wed, Jan 15 from 8 am - 5 pm at 230 N Union Ave. Pueblo, CO 81003. For more information call 719-583-6611. Jan 15 is the last day of open enrollment!
I've been reluctant to add Tom Steyer's healthcare plan into my candidate analyses, but like Michael Bloomberg, Steyer has managed to flood the airwaves with well over $100 MILLION of his own money in TV ads and it's at least partly paid off. He's been in a couple of the Democratic debates, and is placing in 2nd or 3rd in a couple of South Carolina primary polls, so I guess he's justified my taking a look at his plan:
Health care is a right for all
Every American has the Right to Health Care. Health is the foundation for a full and productive life. Yet for far too long, the corporate stranglehold on our health care system has kept Americans from accessing and affording the health care they need.
Costs are simply too high. Patients in the United States spend on average $9,892 a year on health care, which is 25% higher than the next highest-cost nation. Predatory drug companies, insurance providers, and hospitals squeeze every last dollar in profit possible from the system. As these corporations deliver skyrocketing returns to shareholders, politicians in Washington, D.C. do nothing to help the hard-working families whose budgets are being held hostage.
This Just In via the New Hampshire Insurance Dept...
Governor Sununu and NH Insurance Department Announce Plan to Reduce Premium Rates, Improve Individual Health Insurance Market
CONCORD, NH – Today, Governor Chris Sununu is announcing that the New Hampshire Insurance Department intends to file a Section 1332 State Relief and Empowerment Waiver application with the federal government to promote stability in the state’s individual health insurance market with an expectation that plan year 2021 premiums will be reduced by approximately 15% over what they would have been otherwise.
Incomplete numbers have been released for California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts and New York, all of which still have ongoing Open Enrollment, and I'm still waiting on any enrollment data for Rhode Island or Vermont.
With all that in mind, here's a state-by-state breakout showing where things stand as of today, Jaunary 9th. The states have been sorted from worst-performing to best, although obviously the 8 states with partial or no data are misleading (vice-versa for the bar graph).
Last year, California passed several important bills related to expanding coverage in their ACA exchange, Covered California. Two of the biggest changes were the expansion of subsidies to middle-class enrollees earning 400-600% FPL (as well as enhancing subsidies for existing enrollees), and the reinstatement of the individual mandate penalty (the revenue from which is actually supposed to be used to help finance the expanded subsidies).
Again, there's still another five full weeks of Open Enrollment in California (six, if you include the missing data from last week). As I've noted, they'll have to add at least 134,000 total enrollees to beat last year, or nearly 200,000 to beat their all-time high. From the looks of things, they're on track to hit that 615K figure in the 200-400% range, but the 400-600% range is gonna be a much steeper climb...which is ironic since that's the population which is eligible for the most dramatic price cuts.
Washington Healthplanfinder Sees More Than 212,000 Sign Ups During 2020 Open Enrollment Period
Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) today announced more than 212,000 customers selected a 2020 health plan through Washington Healthplanfinder, the state’s online health insurance marketplace. The total number was slightly lower, 3.8 percent, than the nearly 221,000 selections last year.
Approximately 8.3 million people selected or were automatically re-enrolled in plans using the HealthCare.gov platform during the 2020 open enrollment period.
These snapshots provide point-in-time estimates of weekly plan selections, call center activity and visits to HealthCare.gov or CuidadoDeSalud.gov. The final snapshot reports new plan selections, active plan renewals and automatic enrollments. It does not report the number of consumers who paid premiums to effectuate their enrollment.
As we do each year, CMS also plans to release a detailed 2020 final enrollment report in March, including final plan selection data from State-based Exchanges that do not use the HealthCare.gov platform.
I just received the following 2020 Open Enrollment report from the Massachusetts Health Connector (via email, no link):
Here are numbers as of yesterday:
We have 290,769 members enrolled in January coverage
We have 4,444 members enrolled in February or March coverage
We have 5,270 plans selected (1st premium not paid yet)
That’s a total of 300,483 people
We have 41,477 new enrollments.
I wish every ACA exchange would break out their numbers this way. Simple and to the point, but also with relevant details...not only "renewals vs. new" but also how many are enrolled for January vs. February or March coverage and even how many have/haven't paid yet! The last is a bit unfair since Massachusetts is one of only two states, I believe, which actually handle premium payments (Rhode Island does as well...Washington State used to but doesn't anymore).
Your Health Idaho enrolls 89,000 Idahoans for 2020 health insurance coverage
Idaho exchange sees increase in new customers as overall enrollments decline amid Medicaid expansion
BOISE, Idaho – More than 89,000 Idahoans signed up for 2020 health insurance coverage through the state insurance exchange, Your Health Idaho, during open enrollment which ended Dec. 16, 2019.
Enrollments are down approximately 14,000 from the same time last year. This decline is largely due to Medicaid expansion and was expected by the exchange. Your Health Idaho originally estimated that around 18,000 individuals would move from the exchange to Medicaid under the newly expanded program.
Mills, Jackson & Gideon Announce Bill to Improve Health Insurance for Maine People and Small Businesses
Augusta, MAINE – Governor Janet Mills, Senate President Troy Jackson, and Speaker of the House Sara Gideon today announced legislation to improve private health insurance for Maine people and small businesses. LD 2007, The Made for Maine Health Coverage Act, would make some of the most common medical visits free or less costly, simplify shopping for a plan, leverage federal funds to help make premiums more affordable for small businesses, and put Maine in the driver’s seat to ensure that all Maine people have clear choices for their coverage.
DISCLAIMER: HealthSherpa has a banner ad placement agreement with ACASignups.net.
As regular readers know, for the past two Open Enrollment Periods, I've had a banner ad agreement with HealthSherpa, a 3rd-party Web Broker which enrolls people in ACA exchange policies. It's important to understand that unlike some other web brokers which sell ACA policies alongside non-ACA compliant plans, I only entered into this agreement with HS because they only offer on-exchange ACA-compliant policies. And no, I'm not being paid extra for this blog post; I don't work that way.
Having said that, there's no denying that their press release today is intriguing and an important look at the public/private status of the ACA:
I don't normally post blog entries about the occasional Twitter flare-ups I get into with die-hard Medicare for All supporters, but this one strikes me as being especially noteworthy for several reasons.
David Klion is the News Editor at JewishCurrents and a writer for The Nation and The New Republic. As you can imagine, he's a pretty left-wing/progressive kind of guy, and a devout Bernie Sanders supporter. He has a verified account (as I do) and has about 55,000 Twitter followers (compared to my 35,000, FWIW). In other words, both of us have small but respectable followings on social media and are what the powers that be would likely consider "low-level" (?) Twitter influencers.
He and I have followed each other on Twitter for several years. We don't directly talk to each other very often, however.
Attorney General Becerra Leads Coalition Seeking Supreme Court Review of ACA Repeal Case
Friday, January 3, 2020
SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today, leading a coalition of 20 states and D.C., filed a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court seeking review of the Fifth Circuit’s recent decision in Texas v. U.S. The decision held the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) unconstitutional and called into question whether the remaining provisions of the ACA could still stand, including those that protect and provide coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions. Because this decision causes uncertainty that may harm the health of millions of Americans, as well as doctors, clinics, patients, and the healthcare market, Attorney General Becerra and his coalition are petitioning the Supreme Court to take up the case and resolve it before the end of the Court’s current term in June.
Some of you may have noticed that I haven't really posted much the past week or so. Part of it is because my whole family has been sick (nasty flu going around); part is because of the holidays, of course; and part is because I've been working on a couple of special projects.
One of those projects happened to require that I track down the official Twitter handles of every single member of the U.S. House of Representatives...all 431* of them. While I was at it, I also decided to compile some other key demographic information, such as gender, year of birth and so forth.
*(there's currently 4 vacancies)
You might think this would be easy enough to get ahold of, and most of it is...but the Twitter handles were tricky. There's several online lists already, but most of them seem to be incomplete, outdated, or include their personal handles instead of their official Congressional ones. I've gone through one by one and confirmed all 431 current members. In a few cases I did have to use their personal handles because they don't have an official one (and in a couple of cases, they appear to be one and the same).