Last week, in my latest exclusive entry at healthinsurance.org, I crunched the numbers to see just how many people would likely lose their healthcare coverage if congressional Republicans, along with Republican President-elect Donald Trump, were to follow through with their explicit promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act (otherwise known as "Obamacare") early next year.
As I noted, the GOP is still incredibly vague about what exactly they'd replace the ACA with. No matter what they claim, it's only the "repeal" part which they've been clear about so far. All indications are that they plan on pushing the "repeal" part through almost immediately upon Trump taking office. Therefore, I focused specifically on what would happen if the ACA were repealed, in full, in early 2017 with immediate effect (as opposed to this weaselly 2-3 year delay business they've been bandying about which could potentially be even worse for the healthcare market as a whole in some ways).
Remember, there are four categories of people who would lose coverage:
11.3 million12.3 million: People enrolled in Medicaid/CHIP specifically thanks to the ACA's expansion provision in 32 states + DC
9.0 million: People enrolled in ACA exchange (Individual Market) policies who are receiving heavy federal subsidies via the ACA exchanges*
1.4 million: Young adults 19-25 years old enrolled in their parents' plans (via group or non-group markets) specifically thanks to the ACA provision
470,000: People enrolled in ACA-funded Basic Health Plans in Minnesota & New York
But actually, he thought as he re-adjusted the Ministry of Plenty’s figures, it was not even forgery. It was merely the substitution of one piece of nonsense for another. Most of the material that you were dealing with had no connexion with anything in the real world, not even the kind of connexion that is contained in a direct lie. Statistics were just as much a fantasy in their original version as in their rectified version. A great deal of the time you were expected to make them up out of your head. For example, the Ministry of Plenty’s forecast had estimated the output of boots for the quarter at 145 million pairs. The actual output was given as sixty-two millions. Winston, however, in rewriting the forecast, marked the figure down to fifty-seven millions, so as to allow for the usual claim that the quota had been overfulfilled. In any case, sixty-two millions was no nearer the truth than fifty-seven millions, or than 145 millions. Very likely no boots had been produced at all. Likelier still, nobody knew how many had been produced, much less cared. All one knew was that every quarter astronomical numbers of boots were produced on paper, while perhaps half the population of Oceania went barefoot.
“The idea that you can repeal the Affordable Care Act with a two- or three-year transition period and not create market chaos is a total fantasy,” said Sabrina Corlette, a professor at the Health Policy Institute of Georgetown University. “Insurers need to know the rules of the road in order to develop plans and set premiums.”
As anyone who's visited the site the past few days knows, I've spent countless hours digging up data to find out exactly how many people are enrolled in Medicaid/CHIP specifically due to the ACA's expansion provision. This is much more difficult than you'd think for a variety of reasons. For one thing, each state seems to have different methodology for how they track and report Medicaid enrollees (some weekly, some monthly, some quarterly, etc). For another, there's a wide variety of eligibility thresholds under pre-ACA Medicaid for different groups of residents in each state (pregnant women, infants, children, parents, etc), and since the funding mechanism varies depending on whether the enrollee qualifies for "normal" Medicaid or "ACA expansion" Medicaid, categorization can be tricky. Finally, due to the churn factor (people moving up and down the income scale as well as gaining or losing job-based or other forms of coverage), the numbers can jump around from month to month or even week to week.
Earlier today I posted fully broken-down estimates of just how many people would be directly impacted by a full & repeal of the Affordable Care Act this spring, assuming that the repeal took immediate effect and there was no replacement plan in place for the various provisions of the law.
The largest single category of enrollees in my estimates are those enrolled in Medicaid/CHIP due specifically to the ACA's Medicaid expansion provision. I estimated this to be roughly 11.3 million people nationally.
Now that we're past Thanksgiving weekend and the big December 15th deadline (for January coverage) is coming up fast, OE4 enrollments should have started ramping up significantly, on the order of 250,000 per day or more nationally (around 190K via HC.gov).
The Connecticut ACA exchange, AccessHealthCT, issued a press release today reminding Connecticut residents in general of the December 15th deadline for January 1st coverage. They also stressed, however, that while most current enrollees will be automatically renewed into either their existing policy, there are about 26,000 current enrollees who can't be auto-renewed because their carrier is leaving the exchange in 2017:
On December 1st, AHCT’s automatic renewal process began. The AHCT eligibility system will automatically enroll into 2017 coverage customers who have selected auto-renew and whose plans are still available. “But, there are 26,000 people who currently have coverage through AHCT who cannot auto-renew and must take action to renew their 2017 plans,” Wadleigh noted. Wadleigh reminds all customers “they should shop around and compare your options for 2017– that’s the purpose of the marketplace.”
DENVER — More than 37,000 Coloradans selected healthcare coverage for 2017 through the state health insurance Marketplace in November, a rate 23 percent ahead of signups one year ago, according to new data released today by Connect for Health Colorado®.
“The pace of sign-ups during the first month of this Open Enrollment has been very heartening,” said Connect for Health Colorado CEO Kevin Patterson. “We know that there is a lot of discussion now about the future direction of healthcare, but what remains constant and true is the importance of protecting the health and financial future of all Coloradans. I encourage everyone who needs health insurance to check to see if they qualify for financial assistance, review the available plans, and complete an enrollment before the last-minute rush.”
In the first month of the annual Open Enrollment period, Coloradans selected 37,948 medical and dental insurance plans. That compares to 30,777 such plan selections in November 2015.
Last week I decided to once again take a crack at projecting not only the final number of 2017 Open Enrollment Period QHP enrollments nationally, but on a state-by-state basis. I started with a simple assumption of "2016 + 8.7%" (to match the national 13.8 milliion vs. 12.7 million projection made by both myself and the HHS Dept.), and then adjusted each state higher or lower based on various factors.
Now that CMS has broken out the first 4 weeks' worth of QHP selections via the federal exchange, in addition to the partial data I have on hand for some of the state-based exchanges, it's time to see where things stand compared to my personal projections. The only states where I know of an official projection are California and Connecticut, and even these have some wiggle room as they're more ranges than exact numbers.
With that in mind, here's what it looks like at the moment. Click the graph below for a high-resolution version. Things to note:
Minnesota's "first-come-first-serve" enrollment cap system caused a massive surge in early QHP selections...so much so that they kicked things off by signing people up at a pace twelve times faster than last year in the first few days.
With more than four weeks of open enrollment in the books, more than 57 percent of Minnesotans enrolling in a private health insurance plan through MNsure are qualifying for financial help available only through the state-based health insurance marketplace. The average tax credit amount going to MNsure customers will be more than three times higher in 2017 than it was in 2016.
As I understand it, the trend in the individual market has been moving away from wide-network PPOs and towards narrower-network HMOs for some time now...and while the ACA has certainly accelerated this trend, it had already started before the ACA came around.
Anyway, as I've noted before, my own family was among those who received the Scary Cancellation Notices® back in October 2013 letting us know that our pre-ACA Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan policy was being terminated for not complying with full ACA requirements (I think it was mostly the lack of mental health coverage, but there might've been other stuff as well).
We managed to work our way through HealthCare.Gov (this was after the worst HC.gov technical problems had been resolved, but while the system was still pretty buggy) and ended up enrolling in the closest equivalent ACA-compliant policy: A BCBSMI Gold PPO plan.