I just posted about the first official enrollment numbers coming in from Day One of the 2015 Open Enrollment Period, with small but symbolically important numbers from Vermont and Massachusetts.

I also noted the following passage from today's Boston Globe story about it:

As of 6:30 p.m., 5,967 people had used the Connector website (MAhealthconnector.org) to find out what type of plan they were eligible for.

Of them 2,660 enrolled in MassHealth, the state’s Medicaid program, according to Haberlin, who is senior adviser to Maydad Cohen, the governor’s special assistant for project delivery.

The remaining 3,307 learned they were eligible to shop for a private health insurance. Of those, 1,704 selected a plan and 60 paid online (which is not required until Dec. 23).

So, you have 1,704 actually enrolling ("selecting a plan"), of which--GASP!!--only 60 have paid!!

OK, the numbers are small, but it's a start--and the fact that both are being released by states which had horrible technical issues last year is quite telling:

VERMONT: 201 in first 8 hours: 

Vermont Health Connect processed 50 new applications and 201 renewals by Saturday at 1 p.m. The exchange was working well with some isolated minor issues in the morning that were quickly resolved, he said.

MASSACHUSETTS: 1,704 in first day:

#ACA coverage update: 2,660 enrolled in @MassHealth; 3,307 eligible for @HealthConnector coverage with 1,704 plans selected. Total: 5,967

— MA Health Connector (@HealthConnector) November 16, 2014

I've ranted several times before about the importance of current Obamacare private policy enrollees making sure to actually visit the exchange website, shop aroundlog into your account and manually re-enroll for 2015, even if nothing has changed at your end (ie, no changes in income, dependents, residence etc).

There are many reasons NOT to auto-renew, most of which are financial in nature. The short version is, you could easily end up paying more than you thought next year by not switching (in addition to premium changes, your tax credit might drop even if your income hasn't changed due to how it's calculated), and you could pay substantially less next year if you do switch to another policy (premiums are actually dropping in many markets).

There were more than a half million successful log-ins Saturday to HealthCare.Gov, 100,000+ people submitting applications.

— HealthCare.gov (@HealthCareGov) November 16, 2014

OK, I'm as geeked as any ACA supporter, but some context and clarification is important here. Last year there was a lot of confusion about the distinction between someone:

  1. creating an account
  2. submitting an application
  3. selecting/committing to a plan, and
  4. paying their first month's premium.

The 8.02 million figure through April 19th touted by the administration last spring represented 3) Selecting a plan.

Of that, the actual number who followed through and 4) paid their first premium (thus activating--or "effectuating" to use the industry lingo--their policy) ended up being roughly 88%, or around 7.1 million.


Yes, I know, I know: Who wouldn't want to spend an hour watching Andrew Sprung (aka xpostfactoid1) and myself discuss the minutiae of the 2015 Open Enrollment Period, my projections from the other day and the design/usability improvements at Healthcare.Gov?? Contain yourselves, people!!

(OK, OK, you don't have to watch the full hour--it's broken into 5-8 minute snippets)

You can check out all this and more over at healthinsurance.org now!

NOTE: I've just been informed that the video is Flash-based, and therefore doesn't load on iPhones/iPads (or many Android devices either).

No, I don't have any hard numbers yet (aside from the 23,000 "processed applications" in the first 8 hours at HC.gov and the 120 (strike that...201) renewals in Vermont as of 1:00pm.

However, I can say that based on my (very limited) poking around the web, it appears that not only is Healthcare.Gov doing fine, so are most of the state-run exchanges...except for two of them (and not the ones you'd think):

  • California: I heard anecdotal evidence that CoveredCA was having some significant issues on opening day, but it wasn't until I checked their Twitter feed and saw a series of posts like this that I grew concerned:
  • Washington State: The WAHealthplan Finder issued this notice this afternoon:

Status Updates & Maintenance Schedule
November 15, 2014

During the first open enrollment period, the official data releases from the various exchanges ranged all over the place.

HHS, of course, only issued monthly reports, without giving any official data in between (that is, until the numbers started looking good, at which point they issued milestone press releases of "3 million", "5 million" and so on, although even then they didn't give exact numbers or dates).

Some of the state exchanges stuck with monthly numbers as well (Colorado), while others gave out data roughly weekly (Nevada, via Twitter), bi-weekly, or whenever they happened to feel like it (most of the other states). As things ramped up towards March/April, some states started issuing regular weekly updates (including Oregon, which is ironic given all of their technical problems).

An hour or so ago I posted this tweet from HuffPost's Jeffrey Young, who writes:

HealthCare.Gov processed 23,000 completed applications during the first eight hours, @SecBurwell says. pic.twitter.com/COAJpKFftV

— Jeffrey Young (@JeffYoung) November 15, 2014

Unfortunately, I'm not sure whether "processed completed applications" means actual enrollments or just accounts created. Presumably HHS will provide better clarity on this sort of language (and quickly) going forward. Plus, of course, a single policy enrollment could have 2, 3 or more people in a household.

However, I'm happy to report the very first official enrollment update is also already available, and it's out of Vermont, one of the states with a highly-troubled exchange last time around!

Hold on to your hats, here it is:

During the 2014 Open Enrollment Period, the federal exchange at Healthcare.Gov enrolled 68% of the 8.02 million total through April 19th. However, it didn't start out that way; 68% was the cumulative percentage. Due to the severe technical problems at HC.gov (along with some of the state exchanges), during the first month, the federal site only made up 25% of the total. As technical problems were worked out, this ratio shifted dramatically as follows:

  • October: 25% Federal, 75% State-based
  • November: 43% Federal, 57% State-based
  • December: 59% Federal, 41% State-based
  • January: 65% Federal, 35% State-based
  • February: 72% Federal, 35% State-based
  • March/April: 75% Federal, 25% State-based

As you can see, once HC.gov worked the bugs out, it took off bigtime, and was enrolling 75% of the total by the time the Big Surge came at the end.

March 19, 2014:

Health industry officials say ObamaCare-related premiums will double in some parts of the country, countering claims recently made by the administration.

The expected rate hikes will be announced in the coming months amid an intense election year, when control of the Senate is up for grabs. The sticker shock would likely bolster the GOP’s prospects in November and hamper ObamaCare insurance enrollment efforts in 2015.

...The insurance official, who hails from a populous swing state, said his company expects to triple its rates next year on the ObamaCare exchange. 

A few minutes ago, a guy named Ed Lyons tweeted the following:

The new @HealthConnector exchange launches tomorrow, 8 am. As I have said for a couple of months, I think it will be fine this time. #mapoli

— Ed Lyons (@mysteriousrook) November 14, 2014

This is huge. Why?

Because Ed Lyons is the same guy who wrote The Health Connector Autopsy Report, which documented everything that went wrong with the MA ACA exchange project, from before the beginning until after the end. I mean, everything.

All 31,000 words of it.

It's difficult to get across just how in-depth, comprehensive or well-researched/documented that report is. It's also important to understand that a) to the best of my knowledge, like myself, Mr. Lyons didn't do it for money or for fun; it was something of an obsession for him. It should also be noted that Mr. Lyons is a Republican.

Lots of people have spent today saying stuff like this:

OK, the numbers have barely moved, and technically this update is missing 3 days (it only runs through 11/11 instead of 11/14), but MNsure has been the only exchange, federal or state, which has provided an almost odometer-like frequency of off-exchange updates.

Therefore, in a tribute to MNsure, here's their final 2014 QHP update before #OE2 kicks off:

Latest Enrollment Numbers

November 11, 2014

Health Coverage Type Cumulative Enrollments
Medical Assistance 234,751
MinnesotaCare 80,387
Qualified Health Plan (QHP) 55,900
TOTAL 371,038

  • QHPs wrap things up at 55,900 (adding 21 more people over 2 days)
  • Medicaid has added another 53 people
  • MinnesotaCare is actually down by...4 people. Presumably some family of 4 moved onto better times?

And that's a wrap, folks.

Yes, of course it's blank. As you can see, I'm doing things a bit differently this time around: I'm presenting the full enrollment period all at once (doable since it's only 3 months instead of 6), and I'm including the official "targets" from HHS, CBO and myself on the right side.

Underneath, just for posterity, I've posted the final version of the 2014 Graph.

This morning, even as I was posting my official 2015 QHP projection, Gallup came out with two important surveys regarding ACA exchange enrollees:

55% of Americans who currently lack insurance say they plan to sign up for coverage while 35% of the uninsured say they will not get insurance and instead pay the fine as required by the Affordable Care Act, also known as "Obamacare."