COVID-19

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."

The data below comes from the GitHub data repositories of Johns Hopkins University, execpt for Rhode Island, Utah and Wyoming, which come from the GitHub data of the New York Times due to the JHU data being incomplete for these three states. Some data comes directly from state health department websites.

Here's the top 100 counties ranked by per capita COVID-19 cases as of Saturday, August 15th (click image for high-res version):

The data below comes from the GitHub data repositories of Johns Hopkins University, execpt for Rhode Island, Utah and Wyoming, which come from the GitHub data of the New York Times due to the JHU data being incomplete for these three states. Some data comes directly from state health department websites.

Here's the top 100 counties ranked by per capita COVID-19 cases as of Saturday, August 8th (click image for high-res version):

Back on March 10th, the Washington HealthPlanFinder became the first state-based ACA exchange/marketplace to formally create an official COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period, which was originally scheduled to have a deadline of April 8th.

Since that time, nearly every other state-based ACA exchange (all of them except for Idaho) has done likewise. Some of them required some sort of verbal or written attestation of thier eligibility status, while others didn't, but all of them were wide open to any uninsured resident who would normally be eligible to enroll during the official Open Enrollment Period.

The deadlines for the "open" COVID-19 SEP varied by state...but most of them ended up extending them out as that deadline approached. In some cases, they bumped it out again...and again...and yet again, as it became increasingly clear that the deadly pandemic isn't going away anytime soon.

Just out from Covered California:

California’s Efforts to Build on the Affordable Care Act Lead to a Record-Low Rate Change for the Second Consecutive Year

  • The preliminary rate change for California’s individual market will be 0.6 percent in 2021, which marks a record low for the second consecutive year and follows California’s reforms to build on and strengthen the Affordable Care Act.
  • Covered California’s increased enrollment, driven by state policies and significant investments in marketing and outreach, has resulted in California having one of the healthiest individual market consumer pools and lower costs for consumers.
  • The impact of COVID-19 on health plans’ costs has been less than anticipated as many people deferred or avoided health care services in 2020, and while those costs are rebounding, it now appears the pandemic will have little effect on the total costs of care in California’s individual market for 2020 and 2021.
  • All 11 health insurance companies will return to the market for 2021, and two carriers will expand their coverage areas, giving virtually all Californians a choice of two carriers and 88 percent the ability to choose from three carriers or more.

The data below comes from the GitHub data repositories of Johns Hopkins University, execpt for Rhode Island, Utah and Wyoming, which come from the GitHub data of the New York Times due to the JHU data being incomplete for these three states. Some data comes directly from state health department websites.

Here's the top 100 counties ranked by per capita COVID-19 cases as of Saturday, August 1st (click image for high-res version):

Back in March, I launched my own COVID-19 case/fatality tracking spreadsheet project which mostly duplicates any number of existing sites, but with a couple of additional twists:

  • I've included the estimated total population of every U.S state/territory via Wikipedia (as of July 2019) which allows me to add new columns listing both the confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths per capita. This gives a much clearer picture of how relatively ugly things have gotten in each state/territory to date.
  • I've added columns to rank the daily percent increase in both confirmed cases and deaths for each state/territory (on the right side), which is important for tracking the rate of the virus' spread.
  • I've added the Presidential partisan lean of each state as well as which party holds the governor's seat. This may seem incredibly inappropriate (and it is), but it's sadly necessary because Donald Trump has apparently decided to only grant his favor and any substantial assistance to states which a) voted for him and b) whose governors kiss his ass enough.

I've taken some amount of criticism from people who got the vapors and claimed that I was "politicizing" the pandemic, which is laughable in the Trump era, where everything has been politicized by the Trump Administration.

via the Rhode Island Insurance Dept:

2021 Requested Commercial Health Insurance Rates Have Been Submitted to OHIC for Review

CRANSTON, R.I. (July 21st, 2020) – The Office of Health Insurance Commissioner (OHIC) today released the individual, small, and large group market premium rates requested by Rhode Island’s insurers. The requests were filed as part of OHIC’s 2020 rate review and approval process (for rates effective in 2021). Tables 1 – 3, below, summarize the insurers’ requests for 2021, and provide the requested and approved rate changes for the previous two years. Two insurers, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) and Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island (NHPRI) filed plans to be sold on the individual market for persons who do not receive insurance through their employer. In addition to BCBSRI and NHPRI, UnitedHealthcare and Tufts Health Plan filed small group market plans. Five insurers (BCBSRI, UnitedHealthcare, Tufts Health Plan, Aetna, and Cigna) filed large group rates.

This actually came out last week but I didn't have a chance to do a write-up on it until now:

July 23, 2020 - Early 2020 Effectuated Enrollment Snapshot

This report provides effectuated enrollment, premium, and advance payments of the premium tax credit (APTC) data for the Federally-facilitated and State-based Exchanges (“the Exchanges”) for February 2020 and for the 2019 plan year.

February 2020 Effectuated Enrollment Snapshot Key Findings

The data below comes from the GitHub data repositories of Johns Hopkins University, execpt for Rhode Island, Utah and Wyoming, which come from the GitHub data of the New York Times due to the JHU data being incomplete for these three states. Some data comes directly from state health department websites.

Here's the top 100 counties ranked by per capita COVID-19 cases as of Saturday, July 25th (click image for high-res version):

Tennessee has also posted their preliminary 2021 rate filings for both the individual and small group markets. Aside from being one of the few states where a significant number of carriers are including any COVID-19 pandemic factor at all (in both markets), Tennessee has several new entrants and one significant withdrawl (I think).

On the individual market, UnitedHealthcare is newly entering, while Cigna is expanding their coverage areas as noted here. Cigna is also newly entering Tennessee's small group market, as is Bright Health Insurance.

Overall, Tennessee carriers are asking for a 10.3% increase on the indy market (the second highest so far after New York's 11.7% average), mostly driven by Blue Cross Blue Shield, which holds a whopping 83% of the market. On the small group market, the average increase is 5.5%.

COVID-19 accounts for 1.7 points of the increase on average in the indy market and 2.6 points in the small group market. This, again, is the highest statewide average COVID impact I've seen after New York state so far.

When I first read the quote, I assumed it was either a paraphrase, out of context or sarcasm. Sadly, it was none of those:

A series of controversial remarks by Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on a St. Louis radio show are getting widespread attention — and some pushback.

In an interview on Friday with talk-radio host Marc Cox on KFTK (97.1 FM), Parson indicated both certainty and acceptance that the coronavirus will spread among children when they return to school this fall. The virus has killed 1,130 people in the state despite a weekslong stay-at-home order in the spring that helped slow the virus’ spread — and the state set a record on Saturday with 958 new cases.

...Parson’s comment on the coronavirus signaled that the decision to send all children back to school would be justified even in a scenario in which all of them became infected with the coronavirus.

The data below comes from the GitHub data repositories of Johns Hopkins University, execpt for Rhode Island, Utah and Wyoming, which come from the GitHub data of the New York Times due to the JHU data being incomplete for these three states. Some data comes directly from state health department websites.

Here's the top 100 counties ranked by per capita COVID-19 cases as of Saturday, July 18th (click image for high-res version):

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