Charles Gaba's blog

Wow! New Jersey's ACA Medicaid Expansion is up to over 201,000 people (43% of the total eligible population), helping reduce the state's uninsured rate from 21.2% to 13.2% in the past 8 months:

A monthly enrollment report showed that 1,485,576 state residents were covered by FamilyCare, which includes coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. That total represented a 45,674-person increase from April and a 201,095-person increase since January 1, when the eligibility expansion went into effect.

The numbers suggest that the number of uninsured New Jerseyans has continued to fall since early March, when a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-sponsored survey found that the percentage of state residents without insurance had already fallen to 13.2 percent, down from 21.2 percent in September.

Minnesota continues to quietly add enrollees to both QHPs (up 3,005 since the end of open enrollment) and Medicaid (up 44,567 since then):

June 9, 2014 

Health Coverage Type Total Enrollments 

  • Medical Assistance 136,303
  • MinnesotaCare 48,942
  • Qualified Health Plan (QHP) 51,500

TOTAL 236,745

That means Minnesota is averaging 51 additional QHPs per day during the "off season".

At the end of the official enrollment extension period (technically 4/19), Colorado's exchange QHP tally stood at 125,402. As of the end of May, it was up to 132,815, with SHOP enrollments up to 2,135. This means Colorado's QHP total went up around 6% since open enrollment ended, or around 177 per day.

OK, I've only gone completely off-topic on this site like twice, but I'm just such a huge fan of this woman that I'm making an exception.

I'm very much aware that the bulk of my 15 minutes of fame pretty much ran out the moment that the first open enrollment extension period wrapped up, but the site still receives a decent amount of traffic so I figured, what the hell, might as well help give a deserving talent some additional exposure before what's left of my own spotlight dims completely.

Besides, there's been so much depressing news of late (more mass shootings by wingnut extremists, the ugly response by the GOP to the President bringing home an American POW, etc) that I figured I should lighten things up a bit for once. WIth that in mind...

Over 6 years ago, during the famous Obama/Hillary Presidential Primary Slugfest, I stumbled across a YouTube video of a talented woman named Rosemary Watson who absolutely nailed Hillary Clinton to a T in a hilarious bit called "New Hand Gestures":

Well I'll be damned:

When Massachusetts passed its landmark health coverage law under Gov. Mitt Romney in 2006, no one claimed the state would get to zero, as in 0 percent of residents who are uninsured. But numbers out today suggest Massachusetts is very close.

Between December 2013 and March of this year, when the federal government was urging people to enroll, the number of Massachusetts residents signed up for health coverage increased by more than 215,000. If that number holds, the percentage of Massachusetts residents who do not have coverage has dropped to less than 1 percent.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Massachusetts only had around 242,000 uninsured residents out of 6.65 million total as of last September (about 3.6%), just before the ACA exchanges launched. So on the one hand, Massachusetts already had the lowest uninsured rate in the country due, of course, to RomneyCare, the precursor of Obamacare (no matter how much Mitt wants to deny it now, Lord knows why...)

So, it's been over a month since my last official update of The Graph. I've been debating whether to post any further updates of it, especially since the HHS Dept. announced that they won't be posting any more monthly exchange QHP updates, at least until the next open enrollment period starts in November. Without these, I have no official count of additional enrollments beyond the 8.02 million which were announced through April 19th.

However, I do have some official numbers since then, mostly on the Medicaid/CHIP side, and a handful of the state exchanges have still be providing regular updates (ironically, two of the states which continue to keep posting updates have the worst technical problems, Hawaii and Oregon).

Michigan is now up to over 57% of the 500,000 residents eligible for Medicaid/CHIP under the Affordable Care Act:

Healthy Michigan Plan Enrollment Statistics

Beneficiaries with Healthy Michigan Plan Coverage: 287,281
(Includes beneficiaries enrolled in health plans and beneficiaries not required to enroll in a health plan.)

*Statistics as of June 9, 2014 
*Updated every Monday at 3 p.m.

OK, this is a very short post. It's not technically ACA-related, but it's certainly about healthcare & preventative medical treatment in America, so it seems close enough.

  1. Look at these charts, comparing the causes of death in the U.S. in 1900 vs. today.
  2. Consider the Anti-Vaxxer movement.
  3. Weep for the future.

That is all. Carry on.

Four important stories about the technical situation status on various ACA exchange websites:

Idaho moving forward with state-run Obamacare exchange

Officials in Idaho say they’re undaunted by the well-documented failures of Obamacare exchanges in neighboring states and are moving  full-steam ahead with plans to launch their own web portal this November.

While executives at Cover Oregon and Nevada Health  Link abandon their state-run websites and turn to the federal exchange (, Your Health Idaho is headed in the opposite direction.

The state relied on the federal website for the open-enrollment period that ended in mid-April because it had less than 200 days last year set up its own web-exchange when state lawmakers authorized the project. It was one of two states — New Mexico is the other — that had to wait a year for its own site, and exchange officials say the delay has been a plus as they meet with other states to discuss what went right or wrong during Obamacare’s first round.

A bunch of people have sent me links to this story out of Virginia:

RICHMOND — Republicans appear to have outmaneuvered Gov. Terry McAuliffe in a state budget standoff by persuading a Democratic senator to resign his seat, at least temporarily giving the GOP control of the chamber and possibly dooming the governor’s push to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Phillip P. Puckett (D-Russell) will announce his resignation Monday, effective immediately, paving the way to appoint his daughter to a judgeship and Puckett to the job of deputy director of the state tobacco commission, three people familiar with the plan said Sunday. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

The short version is this:

This is incredibly face-slappingly depressing news:

Insurance experts say it's hard to know how many people opted to forego insurance and take a tax penalty and now have decided they want insurance, and also how many simply failed to sign up in time and now regret the decision.

But confusion over the new health law, also known as Obamacare, kept some from enrolling, health insurance experts say.

Some people thought they didn't have to meet the new health law's deadline because they didn't qualify for a premium subsidy from the federal government, said Carrie McLean, director of customer care at, a private Web-based insurance broker. Others thought that only people who wanted to purchase insurance through Covered California, the state's health benefit exchange, had to do so by March 31, she said.

And, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey in March, more than 60% of those without health coverage were unaware of the enrollment deadline for most people to sign up for individual health coverage.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 143,000 residents are eligible for expanded Medicaid under the ACA, so this means that the state has already signed up over 86% of the total eligible since October:

Under the health care reform law, West Virginia expanded its Medicaid program to cover those who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, or about $16,000 a year for an individual. As of May 27, 123,403 West Virginia residents had signed up for Medicaid under the expanded program.

Thanks to contributor Brian W. for both of the following pieces out of Forbes, published just two days apart; the contrast in headlines couldn't be more stark. First up is Bruce Japsen, who writes:

Obamacare Sticker Shock? Unlikely For Most In 2015

Though some analysts and even health plan executives believe there could be many double-digit percentage increases in premiums where some health plans underpriced for this year’s first year of enrollment to get customers, there have been examples where insurers are considering introducing even lower premiums than what they offered this year or new product with lower rates. A Bloomberg News report last week, for example, cited Molina Healthcare (MOH) in Washington State as offering a 2015 rate that is an average “6.8 percent reduction” from this year’s rate.

Every little bit...

Connector Updates for May 31, 2014

32,208 Applications completed in the Individual Marketplace
9,432 Individuals and families enrolled in the Individual Marketplace
629 Employers applied to SHOP Marketplace
851 Employees and dependents enrolled via SHOP Marketplace