via MNsure:

Getting ready for MNsure's open enrollment period: what to know and how to prepare

  • Open enrollment runs November 1 through December 23, 2019

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The MNsure open enrollment period begins in less than one month. To ensure Minnesotans are prepared to shop and enroll in coverage starting November 1, MNsure is highlighting some important information:

Open enrollment is shorter this year — don't miss out on coverage

MNsure's open enrollment period for 2020 health and dental coverage will be seven weeks long — beginning November 1, 2019, and ending December 23, 2019. Minnesotans should note that open enrollment is shorter than previous years and all those who enroll during open enrollment will have a start date of January 1, 2020.

MNsure assisters are ready to help — schedule an appointment today

MNsure has a statewide network of expert assisters who can help Minnesotans apply and enroll, free of charge. The assister can be a navigator or a broker.

The South Carolina Insurance Dept. released their final/approved 2020 Individual and Small Group Market premium rate changes a few days ago.

Previously, I only had the unweighted averages, which were a 1.9% decrease on the Indy market and an 11% increase for small group enrollees...but SCDOI has included the weighted averages for each in their approved numbers: A 3.9% drop and 7.6% increase respectively.

It's also worth noting that the Individual market is growing from three carriers to five next year--both Bright Health Co. and Molina Healthcare are joining the South Carolina market for the first time.

I honestly haven't written or read much about this since I wrote about it in April, but the Colorado government is making good on its promise to put forward a serious Public Option proposal.

While Washington is technically the first state to create their own state-based Public Option, the reality is that while I do give them plenty of credit for getting the ball rolling (their PO is scheduled to go into effect starting in January 2021), what they're doing isn't quite what most people have in mind when they think of a PO.

Washington is essentially outsourcing administration of a healthcare plan to an existing carrier, with the state government negotiating the provider network and reimbursement rate levels...which have been set to 160% of Medicare rates. There's nothing wrong with this, and it's an important move forward...but it's only expected to shave perhaps 5-10% at most off of costs because any negotiated rate settings are partly cancelled out by the cost of the private carrier doing the administration.

This Just In, via the New Jersey Dept. of Banking & Insurance...

NJ Department of Banking and Insurance Releases Health Plan Rates
On Average, NJ Individual Market Rates for 2020 Remain 1.4% Lower Than 2018

The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance today released rates for health insurance plans in the individual market effective January 1, 2020. On average, rates for 2020 will remain 1.4 percent lower than they were in 2018, due to policy actions taken by the Murphy Administration to stabilize the insurance market. 

OK, hold up, read that again: 1.4% lower than 2018 premiums, not 1.4% lower than 2019. That's kind of an important distinction. Don't get me wrong, this isn't a bad thing to note, but it's not that impressive considering some other states are seeing rate reductions from 2018. Of course, there's a lot of factors at play which vary from state to state as well.

In case anyone's wondering why I haven't posted anything yet today (I have a huge backlog, believe me!), I'm prepping to moderate a Healthcare Town Hall this evening with my state Representative Mari Manoogian (along with her neighboring House member, Kyra Harris Bolden). The topic? Prescription Drugs:

A Town Hall to Stand Up to Big Pharma

Please join Representatives Mari Manoogian and Kyra Harris Bolden for a town hall discussion to rein in the runaway cost of prescription drugs. No one should have to choose between paying for their medications and putting food on the table.

The event is free and open to the public.

A huge part of the controversy about "pure" Medicare for All is tied to the fact that nearly 50% of the population (roughly ~160 million Americans, give or take) currently receives healthcare coverage via their employer. Some of this Employer-Sponsord Insurance (ESI) is pretty damned good, while some of it kind of sucks, but that's how our absurd system currently works for good or bad.

Anyway, most employers cover the bulk of the premiums for their enrollees...but a lot of people (my guess is the vast majority) either have no clue that they do so or at best have no idea how much of their monthly premiums are covered for them by the employer.

The breakout between the employee and the employer varies widely by company, but according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, as of 2019, the national average is:

Normally I write two separate annual premium rate change filing entries for each state: One when the preliminary/requested rate filings are submitted, and another one when the final/approved rates are published.

In the case of California, it turns out that the rate rview/negotiation process is...more complicated. The press release/report released by Covered California back in July referred to preliminary 2020 premiums only, but it turns out that Covered California exchange personnel had already completed all their negotiations before posting any numbers.

It also turns out (thanks to "Dena M." aka @HealthEDena) that in California, insurance policy premiums are not reviewed/approved by the state insurance department...but by an entirely different department called the Dept. of Managed Health Care, or DMHC.

via Amy Goldstein of the Washington Post:

President Trump is scheduled to issue an order Thursday that expands the private-sector version of Medicare, as he slams some Democratic presidential candidates’ plans to build the program into a government-financed health system.

The order will direct federal health officials to make a set of changes to Medicare Advantage, the private managed care plans currently enrolling 22 million people — one-third of the participants in the federal insurance program for Americans who are 65 and older or have disabilities.

Back in early July, the Indiana Insurance Dept. posted the preliminary requested 2020 rate increases for the carriers participating in the ACA-compliant individual market. Technically there's three carriers there (CareSource Indiana, Celtic/Ambetter and Anthem), though Anthem only has 4 (yes, four) people enrolled in off-exchange policies total.

At the time, the IN DOI stated that the requested rates came in at an average premium increase of 9%:

INDIANA 2020 ACA FILINGS

The overall average rate increase for 2020 Indiana individual marketplace plans is 9.0%. CareSource and Celtic (MHS/Ambetter) have filed to participate in the 2020 Indiana Individual Marketplace. The Department of Insurance anticipates that all 92 counties in Indiana will be covered by both CareSource and Celtic (MHS/Ambetter).

Anthem has filed to offer a 2020 Off-Marketplace plan in Indiana. This plan is a catastrophic plan and is offered only in Benton, Jasper, Newton, Warren and White Counties.

*(Yes, I know, the District of Columbia isn't actually a state, and Vermont's mandate is...well, read on...)

As the 2020 Open Enrollment Period rapidly approaches (it starts November 1st nationwide...except for California, where open enrollment is starting on October 15th), it's time to start getting the word out about some important things to keep in mind this fall.

One of the most critical things to remember for residents of California, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont is that each of these states* has reinstated an individual healthcare coverage mandate law/ordinance to replace the federal ACA mandate penalty which was zeroed out by Congressional Republicans back in December 2017. This means that if you live one one of them, unless you receive an affordability, hardship or other type of acceptable exemption, you'll be charged a financial penalty when you file your state/district taxes for 2020 in spring 2021 if you don't have qualifying healthcare coverage.

In early August, the Nevada Dept. of Insurance posted the state's preliminary 2020 individual market rate changes. The data was a bit incomplete and confusing, but the bottom line is that average unsubsidized 2020 premiums were only expected to increase about 1.0%.

Today they posted the final/approved rate changes, and unlike most states, the overall weighted average will be slightly higher than the original numbers...although only by a hair:

Nevada Division of Insurance reveals approved 2020 Health Insurance Rates

Carson City, NV – The Division of Insurance (‘Division”) has posted the approved 2020 health insurance rates for all plans in the Individual Health Insurance Market at healthrates.doi.nv.gov and encourages consumers to review this information before the Open Enrollment Period begins.

 

Long-time readers may remember that back in June 2018, the Trump Administration's Justice Dept. threw all precedence, decency and logic out the window by not only refusing to defend against the idiotic "Texas vs. Azar" lawsuit (aka #TexasFoldEm) brought by 20 Republican state Attorneys General...but went even further by actually agreeing with the plaintiffs that the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act--which is, remember, the federal law of the land which the DoJ is supposed to defend--is unconstitutional.

At the time, there was one strange thing which was buried within the ugly implications of such a complete abdictation of duty by then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions: While the Trump DoJ did side with the plaintiffs on the case, they split from the plaintiffs as to what they thought the actual "solution" to the "problem" should be.

Not much to see here...in August, the Idaho Insurance Dept. posted their preliminary 2020 average rate changes for the individual & small group markets; they averaged 7.0% and 4.0% increases respectively. Today they've posted the final/approved rates, and the indy numbers have been whittled down ever so slightly:

Back in July, I noted that the Minnesota Commerce Department announced the preliminary 2020 rate changes for carriers on the individual and small group markets. At the time, the weighted average increases were roughly 1.6% and 5.5% respectively, although the enrollment estimates for each carrier were estimates only.

Today, the MN Commerce Dept. announced the approved rates for 2020, and in both markets, they shaved average premiums down a couple of points. Here's the actual Commerce Dept. press release:

Commerce releases 2020 health insurance rates for Minnesota

Minnesota’s individual and small group health insurance market rates for 2020 reflect stabilized markets, according to information released today by the Minnesota Department of Commerce in advance of the open enrollment period beginning November 1.

OK, my math here is gonna be a bit sloppy, but I'm just trying to illustrate a larger point about how splitting risk pools is, generally speaking, a Bad Thing.

Under the Affordable Care Act, non-ACA compliant healthcare policies were given until December 31st, 2013 to become fully ACA-compliant, including the new regulations mandating guaranteed issue, community rating, essential health benefits, no more annual or lifetime limits on coverage and so forth. All major medical policies offered from that day forward had to be fully ACA compliant (although there were some exceptions for short-term plans and so forth).

However, there was an exception made: Any existing policy which someone had been continuously enrolled in since before the ACA was signed into law by President Obama in March 2010 was considered to be "grandfathered" in. As long as the insurance carrier chose to keep offering those non-compliant policies, existing enrollees could remain enrolled, although premiums would of course increase from time to time. The "locked in" pool of enrollees would gradually dwindle as enrollees died, aged onto Medicare, got jobs with employer coverage and so on.

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