END OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD (42 states)

Time: D H M S

Arkansas

Now that the Arkansas legislature has finally agreed not to screw over tens of thousands of their own citizens, a few thousand more people have enrolled in their unusual "Private Medicaid Option" (their version of "Expansion", which appears to basically be effectively the same as an entry-level QHP enrollee who receives a 100% tax credit...I think). Anyway, the Private Medicaid Option is up to about 98K plus an additional 13.4K added to "regular" Medicaid; this is up from 94,000 and 11,500 a few weeks ago, for a total increase of 5,844 altogether.

DHS said Wednesday that 207,967 people have applied for the private option and that 137,809 have been found eligible. Of those, 97,934 have completed the process of enrolling in private plans and 13,410 have been determined to be better served by traditional Medicaid.

OK, as noted a little earlier, I underestimated the February HHS Report for Exchange-based Private QHP enrollment by about 4.2%:

  • My Projection: 902,800 (4.202 million total)
  • Actual Enrollments: 942,833 (4.242 million total)

I'm perfectly happy to have underestimated. As for where the extra 40,000 enrollments came from, my initial guess would be that California, in particular, started ramping up their big March blitz a bit earlier and more successfully than I figured, which, again, I'm absolutely fine with. Update: Nope, actually, California's numbers plummetted in the 2nd half of Feb due to that ugly technical outage; see below for details.

I'm busily plugging the new enrollment numbers into the spreadsheet even as I type this, and will be updating with various notes and observations, so keep checking in.

OK, I've entered the QHP data; a couple of things to note:

UPDATE: On the down side, I was off by 4% this time around.

On the up side, I UNDERESTIMATED:

Actual Feb. enrollments: 942,833, for a total of 4,242,325 thru 3/01/14.

Sarah Kliff at Vox just announced that the February HHS report is expected to be released today at around 4:00pm. A few items in anticipation of that:

  • As I've noted several times, I'm projecting the report to total around 902,000 exchange-based private QHP enrollments for the month of February (technically 2/02 - 3/01)
  • If accurate, this would bring the cumulative total of exchange-based private QHP enrollments to 4.202 million (from 10/1/13 - 3/01/14)
  • From the data I have, the average daily enrollment rate in February was almost identical to that of January, which had about 1.146 million QHP enrollments. HOWEVER, the January report included five weeks of data (12/28 - 2/01), while the February report will only include four weeks (2/02 - 3/01). Therefore, even at the same daily average, it'll be about 20% lower no matter what.
  • Don't be surprised if Peter Lee of CoveredCA decides to steal some thunder by announcing that California has enrolled 1,000,000 QHPs all by itself either today or tomorrow. However, that would include the past 10 days, while the HHS number will only run thru 3/01.
  • If you want to get REALLY specific, call it 902,800 and 4,202,292.
  • I've been dead-on target 6 times in a row without hyping up my projections beforehand. This time I am hyping myself up beforehand, so I'll probably be way off...but as long as I've UNDERestimated the tally, I'll be perfectly fine with that...
  • The report will be released in about 5 minutes, but my kid gets home from school in about 10, so it'll be a good 20 minutes before I can really post anything. Feel free to follow Sarah Kliff of Vox in the meantime!

Several new numbers out of Arkansas. QHPs were at 21,763 at the beginning of February; I'll assume "late February" means around the 26th(?), so that's 4,237 in around 25 days.

On the Medicaid side, Arkansas' unusual "private option" system (in place of the standard Medicaid expansion) is a bit confusing as usual; technically the 94,000 people referred to are enrolled in "private" QHPs, but their bill is being footed 100% by Medicaid money, which is the more important factor here. The other 11,500 referenced were placed in "Medicare" although I'm pretty sure that's a typo and that it's supposed to read "Medicaid" (as in, "normal" Medicaid). It doesn't really matter, though; either way, both of these groups end up on the Medicaid side of the aisle, bringing Arkansas' total up from 79,000 to 105,500 new, ACA-enabled Medicaid recipients.

Already, as of late February, Wilson said 26,000 people had enrolled in the Health Insurance Marketplace and "had been transmitted to the (health) insurance carriers."

Yesterday the Obama administration announced several new modifications to ACA implementation. The one that's getting the most attention is a 2-year extension on non-compliant, pre-ACA healthcare plans. After getting criticized for "lying" about his "if you like your plan you can keep it" statement last fall, Pres. Obama gave individual states the option of extending existing plans by 1 year if they wanted; this just extends that period further, out to pretty much the end of Obama's term of office:

Americans with health coverage that predates Obamacare can stay on their plans for two more years, insurers will have an extra month to enroll customers next winter and states will get more time to decide whether to manage the law themselves, officials said. Also, a program aimed at covering financial losses for insurers will be adjusted to help ensure it doesn’t cost taxpayers, the Obama administration said.

Arkansas' unusual "Private Medicaid Option" already had 74,000 enrollees at the end of December; it looks like they've added another 5,000 people since then. The other 74K are already included in the "CMS Direct" report columns on the spreadsheet, so I'm only increasing the tally by the new 5K.

More than 79,000 people have enrolled in Arkansas' private option program, and state officials say they expect it to hit 100,000 when the Legislature convenes next month for a session focused primarily on the state's budget. 

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