I've discussed the "OMG!! ELEVENTYBILLION POLICIES CANCELLED!!" issue many times before.

In the past, I've pointed out that the actual number of policies which were cancelled last year due to not being compliant with ACA requirements was far, far less than the 5, 6 or 7 million that people were hollering about. In the end it appears to only have been around 1-2 million at most, with the rest being extended by 1, 2 or 3 years via President Obama/HHS's "waiver/grandfathering" allowance.

Of course, that does mean that there will be another chunk of policies cancelled this year, and a smaller number next year, with perhaps a handful left over for 2016...at which point everyone should be on a fully ACA-compliant Qualified Health Plan (QHP).

I can't believe I missed this the other day.

When I posted about the HHS Dept. announcing that a) 7.1 million people were still currently enrolled & paying for exchange QHPs as of October 15 and b) that they also issued an official projection of somewhere between 9.0 - 9.9 million enrolling during the 2015 open enrollment period, I only saw what was included in the official press release.

However, it seems that, according to Politico, there was more to this story beyond the PR itself:

First of all, while the range given was between 9 - 9.9 million, apparently HHS Secretary Burwell is actually looking at the lower end of that range:

Speaking at a Center for American Progress event, she stayed on the smaller end of the range, identifying 9.1 million as the actual sign-up goal.

However, the more noteworthy part to me is this passage:

This is a pretty short article, and it pretty much covers the bases, so I don't have too much to add...

As New York gears up for the Obamacare open-enrollment period that begins on Nov. 15, state officials have a vested interest in making sure things go smoothly. The success of health care reform in New York will be measured by how many residents maintain their coverage or sign up for the first time.

Just over 75% of those who used the state's new Obamacare exchange last year would recommend it to others, according to a new survey. But 92% of respondents who used the exchange to become newly insured were satisfied with the coverage, according to the survey, released Monday by the New York State Health Foundation.

However, there is one additional point I should add. Remember that ridiculous Bankrate survey I posted about yesterday which claimed that over half of ACA enrollees don't plan on using the exchanges again this year? Well...

Faced with a decision on whether to enroll again, 92% of respondents said they are at least somewhat likely to renew their coverage.

Haven't heard much news out of Hawaii of late, so this is a nice surprise:

Nov. 11--Health insurance rates for nearly 13,000 individuals will rise Jan. 1, while close to 33,000 people may be pleasantly surprised to see premium decreases.

The state Insurance Division has approved an average 9.2 percent rate hike for 9,600 individuals covered by Kaiser Permanente Hawaii and 3.8 percent increase for 3,141 members with the Hawaii Medical Service Association.

Kaiser also got the green light to drop rates by 2.8 percent for 4,800 small businesses with roughly 26,200 members at the start of the year, while HMSA received approval to cut rates by an average 6.2 percent for 6,527 individuals.

  • 9.2% x (9,600 / 12,741) = 0.06931952
  • 3.8% x (3,141 / 12,741) = 0.0093680245
  • Add them up and you get: 0.078687545 = 7.8%

When I last checked in on ACA Medicaid expansion in California back in mid-September, it had reached a whopping 2.2 million...or possibly as high as 2.55 million, depending on whether the number included a massive backlog of 350,000 CA residents.

Well, it now seems that not only has that question been answered, but the grand total is a bit higher yet: 2.6 million low-income Californians can thank Obamacare for their newfound healthcare coverage:

The state Medi-Cal system has taken on 2.7 million more Californians since October 2013.

That's an increase of 31% from the 8.6 million previously enrolled. The jump brings the current number of Californians in the Medi-Cal program to 11.3 million -- roughly 30% of the state's population. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.

Worst. Socialized. Medicine. Ever.

Obamacare may not have played as great a role on Election Day as predicted, but President Obama's signature legislation has assumed a larger than anticipated role somewhere else this fall: health-sector stock performance.

As third-quarter earnings reports roll in, the improvement in profits that hospitals and insurance companies attributed to the law three months ago as being maybe no more than a one-time pop are looking more durable.

"People are coming around to the idea that maybe it's good,'' said Les Funtleyder, portfolio manager at New York hedge fund Esquared Asset Management and a former Wall Street health-care analyst. "Maybe it's not a flash in the pan but a theme going forward."

People spend less time thinking about their own health than buying a new car:

During open enrollment, people can sign onto their employer’s health care benefits plan, or, if they’re already enrolled, change plan options. For most companies with a fiscal year ending Dec. 31, open enrollment runs from late October to late November. 

I'd say you just proved her point, jackass.


As for Gruber, all I'll say is that I hope Obamacare covers Foot-in-Mouth Disease, but I don't see what he actually said as being all that devastating. As Kevin Drum noted:

But if we can take just a half step up from radio yammerhead land, did Gruber say anything that isn't common knowledge? I'm not playing faux naive here. I'm serious. Basically, Gruber said two things.

First, he noted that it was important to make sure the mandate wasn't scored as a tax by the CBO. Indeed it was, and this was a topic of frequent discussion while the bill was being debated.

...As for risk-rated subsidies, I don't even know what Gruber is talking about here. Of course healthy people pay in and sick people get money. It's health insurance. That's how it works.


An October survey from health care think tank Kaiser Family Foundation found that 89 percent of the nation’s uninsured have no idea that open enrollment through the law’s insurance exchanges starts Saturday.

Two-thirds of the uninsured said they knew “only a little” or “nothing at all” about the state and federal exchanges through which people can buy subsidized coverage. And more than half — 53 percent — said they didn’t know that federal tax credits could help them pay for a plan.

Those survey results are a problem because they mean the consumers who are supposed to benefit most from the Affordable Care Act may be less likely to take advantage of the assistance the law provides.

I admit to being astonished by this. I figured that even those who hate the ACA (well, they hate "Obamacare", not "The Affordable Care Act", even though it's the exact same thing) at least know when the open enrollment period for it starts (if only so they can criticize the start date for being moved to 11/15 for political reasons).

Hawaii Public Radio (hey, what's up with their exchange website anyway? We heard a lot about Maryland & Massachusett's overhauls, and Oregon & Nevada moving to HC.gov, but not so much about Hawaii, which was also having nasty technical issues...) posts a list of 5 things people should remember going into the 2nd Open Enrollment Period...

Here's a quick checklist for people who don't get their health insurance at work and plan to shop for coverage on the health law's online exchanges. Enrollment starts Nov. 15, but you can start kicking the tires now.

Compare plans and prices at HealthCare.gov or, if your state has its own exchange, shop there to find out which coverage is best for you. And you may be eligible for subsidies to help pay your premium.

Keep these five things in mind as the three-month open enrollment period begins.

Not to be outdone, the Seattle Times has posted seven tips for #OE2:

This site is so much about number-crunching that the human factor often gets lost in these parts. Every once in awhile I try to remind myself (and my readers) of that, and with #OE2 coming up in just 3 days, this seems like as good a time as any:

The Affordable Care Act may have saved Nehemiah Ankoor’s life, and the health care law helped Carol Jackson get her life back.

The second enrollment period for private health insurance subsidized through the federal law will take place Saturday through Feb. 15. Ankoor and Jackson, Springfield-area residents who previously were uninsured, signed up for coverage during the first enrollment period, which ended March 31.

They said they hope rhetoric from critics of the law doesn’t discourage uninsured people from applying for what, to them, turned out to be a godsend.

“Obamacare’s a great thing,” Ankoor, 22, said of President Barack Obama’s signature legislative achievement. “It’s helping a lot of people who you wouldn’t think it would help.”

I haven't done these average-rate-increase posts in a while, but this one came across my screen today so I figured I should post about it.

Back in August, Washington State announced that they had final approved rates on the 90 plans being offered on the WA exchange, with an average increase of 1.9%. However, I didn't know what the market share breakdown was at the time, so I couldn't tell whether that was weighted or not.

Well, today they've issued a more comprehensive press release, covering both on- and off-exchange policies (230 total: 90 on the exchange, 140 off of it). The unweighted overall average increase is a mere 1.5%:

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Individuals and families looking for health insurance this fall have 15 insurers and 230 health plans to choose from, starting Nov. 15.

The average approved rate change was 1.5 percent. Originally, the insurers requested an average 8.3 percent increase, but it was lowered after a review by the Office of the Insurance Commissioner.

Bankrate, according to their website, is "the Web's leading aggregator of financial rate information, offering an unparalleled depth and breadth of rate data and financial content." I've never heard of them before, but this is certainly possible.

However, a few weeks back they published the results of a survey in which they concluded that 51% of those who used the ACA healthcare exchanges last year don't plan on doing so again this year. In short, they're making it sound like up to half of the 8 million people who enrolled through last April (7.1 million of whom were still enrolled as of October 15th) plan on bailing this time around. 

Naturally, various right-wing news outlets like TownHall and the Daily Caller pounced all over this survey, claiming (again) that this proves that Obamacare is dead, dead, deader than dead.

With all the Open Enrollment Period changes for 2015 (#OE2), it can get confusing to follow where you're supposed to go to buy an ACA-compliant healthcare policy this time around (especially if you qualify for tax credits to help pay for it, which includes a good 85% or so of the people enrolling). Two states moved from their own websites over to Healthcare.Gov; one did the opposite; and still others have a "split decision" where you visit one site for individual/family policies and another for small business policies.

Thanks to Zane Benefits for helping sort it all out; I've reformatted the info into an easier-to-follow table:

Over at The New Republic, Jonathan Cohn has a must-read which summarizes, state-by-state, just how ugly things could get if the Supreme Court 1) does indeed rule in favor of the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell; 2) does rule that all ACA tax credits in the 36 states not running their own marketplaces (or possibly as low as 34 or as high as 37, depending on how the court defines "NOT established by the state") have to stop immediately; and 3) neither my own "Denny's Grand Slam Breakfast" solution nor the "State Exchange Two-Step" workarounds end up coming to fruition.

How ugly? This ugly:

Those who signed up for insurance during the first year of health care reform may think they can avoid open enrollment this fall, but that may not be the best choice because of a tax credit formula in the federal law.

Since federal subsidies are based on a formula that reflects the cost of certain insurance plans, and those costs have actually gone down for 2015, some people will see the amount the federal government contributes toward their insurance go down as well.

More than 350,000 more Oregonians received subsidized or government-paid health coverage last year than the year before, due to expanded income standards for the Oregon Health Plan as well as new tax credits to reduce private health plan premiums.