coronavirus

Me, June 16th, after several months of various state-based ACA exchanges bumping out their COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period deadlines by a month, then another month, then another month:

At a certain point I'm guessing at least one of the state exchanges will just say "screw it" and open 2020 enrollment up for the full year.

The point of a deadline is a) to prevent people from trying to game the system by deliberately waiting until they're sick/injured before enrolling in coverage (thus driving up premiums for everyone else) and b) to goad people into actually taking action (deadlines do have a clear positive impact on enrollment). With the COVID-19 pandemic having thrown the entire healthcare system into disarray, neither of those seem to be much of a factor this year.

Maryland Connect, August 7th:

WATCH: Trump Fans Give CNN's Jim Acosta Jaw-Dropping Reasons Why They're Not Wearing Masks at Packed Rally https://t.co/hNcXv4KYfb pic.twitter.com/vuSEkPFO8s

— Tommy X-TrumpIsARacist-opher (@tommyxtopher) September 11, 2020

Around 5,500 Trump supporters showed up at an aircraft hanger in Freeland, Michigan (Saginaw County) to hear Donald Trump speak. The almost entirely white crowd may have been outside, but they were tightly packed and few were wearing masks. CNN's Jim Acosta (who did wear a mask properly, over both his nose and mouth) interviewed some of the attendees to ask why they weren't doing so, and the responses are...quite telling (click thru for the actual video):

Acosta: "Why are you guys not wearing masks?"

Me, June 16th, after several months of various state-based ACA exchanges bumping out their COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period deadlines by a month, then another month, then another month:

I admit that this is starting to get a bit silly. At a certain point I'm guessing at least one of the state exchanges will just say "screw it" and open 2020 enrollment up for the full year.

The point of a deadline is a) to prevent people from trying to game the system by deliberately waiting until they're sick/injured before enrolling in coverage (thus driving up premiums for everyone else) and b) to goad people into actually taking action (deadlines do have a clear positive impact on enrollment). With the COVID-19 pandemic having thrown the entire healthcare system into disarray, neither of those seem to be much of a factor this year.

Maryland Connect, August 7th:

Back in April, in the midst of the earlier stages of the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping through much of the nation, there was a loud outcry for the various ACA health insurance exchanges, including the federal exchange at HealthCare.Gov which hosts enrollment for over 3 dozen states, to re-open enrollment to anyone who missed the official Open Enrollment Period which had ended several months earlier.

Eventually, twelve of the thirteen state-based exchanges did just that, launching COVID-19-specific Special Enrollment Periods of varying time periods for any resident who would normally be eligible to enroll during Open Enrollment to do so. Many of those SBEs would go on to extend the deadlines of their SEPs by a month...or two months...or even more. As of this writing, in fact, California, Maryland, New York and the District of Columbia are are still offering "open" COVID-19 SEPs.

Just a few days after the previous COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period expired, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered NY State of Health to reopen their SEP through September 15th:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Special Enrollment Period for uninsured New Yorkers will be extended for another 30 days, through September 15, 2020, as the State continues to provide supportive services during the COVID-19 public health crisis. New Yorkers can apply for coverage through NY State of Health, New York State's health insurance marketplace, or directly through insurers.

"While we've crushed the curve of the virus, we are still in challenging times for hard-working families throughout the state who need access to quality, affordable health care," Governor Cuomo said. "The state has maintained low infection rates and is moving in the right direction, but we know we're not out of the woods yet. By offering this special enrollment period, we're making sure New Yorkers who need affordable and at times live-saving health care coverage can get it."

Hardly surprising...again.

via the New York State government website:

Special Enrollment for Uninsured New Yorkers Will Extend for Additional 30 days and Remain Open Through August 15, 2020

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Special Enrollment Period for uninsured New Yorkers will be extended for another 30 days, through August 15, 2020, as the State continues to provide supportive services during the COVID-19 public health crisis. New Yorkers can apply for coverage through NY State of Health, New York State's health insurance marketplace, or directly through insurers.

The big story with COVID-19 the past few weeks has been, of course, the out-of-control increase in new cases (if not actual deaths...yet) from the virus in red states like Texas, Florida and especially Arizona which were relatively unscathed throughout the spring while the pandemic was raging across Northeastern blue states like New York, New Jersey and Rhode Island, as well as Michigan and California.

While most of the states being hit with the summer wave are historically Republican strongholds (the states being hit hardest in June/July also include Georgia, Arkansas, South Carolina, etc.), there's one important exception to this: California, which was hit early but which clamped down fairly quickly, has re-emerged as a major hot spot. So what gives?

Hardly surprising at this point, but still important to note:

Health Connector extends enrollment an additional month to July 23rd for uninsured individuals

On June 22, 2020, the Health Connector announced in an Administrative Bulletin an extension to the special enrollment period in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency through July 23, 2020 to assist uninsured Massachusetts residents seeking health coverage. (The extended enrollment period was previously set to end June 23.)

If you need to apply for coverage, you can start by creating an application.

If you apply coverage under this special enrollment, the deadlines to complete enrollment are as follows:

On April 14th, Covered California reported that 58,000 residents had enrolled in ACA exchange coverage during their COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period, of which roughly 20,000 did so via standard SEPs (losing coverage, moving, getting married/divorced, etc), while an additional 38,000 took advantage of the COVID-specific SEP.

On April 28th, they announced that the number was up to 84,000 new ACA exchange enrollees, averaging around 2.5x as many as enrolled via standard Special Enrollment Periods during the same period a year ago.

On May 20th, they announced the total was up to 123,000 new ACA exchange enrollees via the COVID SEP, "nearly" 2.5x the rate of a year before.

As regular readers know, for the past month or so I've been devoting way too much time to tracking COVID-19 cases & fatalities at the state and county level. For my sources, it's been a combination of state health department websites, the New York Times daily GitHub data archive, the Johns Hopkins University daily GitHub data archive and the WorldoMeter website...which in turn gets their data from other sources. The testing data on my state-level spreadsheet, meanwhile, comes from the COVID Tracking Project website.

For the most part, however, I've settled on WorldoMeter for the state-level data and Johns Hopkins U for the county-level data, as each source formats their data in the most convenient manner for my purposes in porting it to my spreadsheets.

Back in April, I noted that the DC Health Link ACA exchange had announced what appeared to be a special enrollment period specifically intended for employees of small businesses via the ACA's SHOP program, through September 15th, 2020:

DC Health Link Expands Opportunities to Get Covered During Public Health Emergency

Monday, April 6, 2020

Responding to COVID-19 pandemic, DC Health Link permits uninsured employees of DC small businesses that offer health insurance through DC Health Link to get covered now

Note: This is a guest post by Miranda Wilgus, Executive Director and Co-Founder of ACA Consumer Advocacy (disclosure: I'm on the ACACA board of directors).

In the middle of June 2020, with over three months of an international pandemic behind us, over 100,000 Americans and more around the world dead from Covid19 and its complications, what are we waiting for? We know that our administration has done everything possible to impede the facilitation of needs and resources to our country. Special interests are running rampant, price gouging is the norm, government agencies have been scooping up supplies from states that are desperately needed, and the GOP controlled Senate is more focused on packing courts with unqualified idealogues than with passing bills to assist Americans financially affected by the pandemic.

On March 20th, the Vermont Health Connect ACA exchange joined other state-based exchanges in launching a formal COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period.

On April 15th, just ahead of the original SEP deadline, they bumped it out by a month:

Due to the COVID-19 emergency, Vermont Health Connect has opened a Special Enrollment Period until May 15, 2020. During this time, any uninsured Vermonter can sign up for a Qualified Health Plan through Vermont Health Connect. Qualified families can also get financial help paying for coverage.. Please call us at 1-855-899-9600 to learn more.

Then, with the May deadline approaching, I took a look and sure enough, they've bumped it out another month:

On March 16th, New York's ACA exchange, NY State of Health, announced that they'd be launching a COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period with a deadline of April 15th. As that date approached, in the middle of the worst pandemic to hit New York State 100 years, the deadline was extended out by a month, through May 15th.

When that deadline approached, NY Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the COVID-19 SEP to be bumped out by another month.

And now, with the June 15th deadline having come and gone, lo and behold:

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced low-risk youth sports for regions in phase three of reopening can begin on July 6th with up to two spectators allowed per child. 

On April 14th, Covered California reported that 58,000 residents had enrolled in ACA exchange coverage during their COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period, of which roughly 20,000 did so via standard SEPs (losing coverage, moving, getting married/divorced, etc), while an additional 38,000 took advantage of the COVID-specific SEP.

On April 28th, they announced that the number was up to 84,000 new ACA exchange enrollees, averaging around 2.5x as many as enrolled via standard Special Enrollment Periods during the same period a year ago.

On May 20th, they announced the total was up to 123,000 new ACA exchange enrollees via the COVID SEP, "nearly" 2.5x the rate of a year before.

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