California

The final 2016 deadline to enroll in a qualifying healthcare plan for policies starting coverage as of March 1st officially ended as of MIDNIGHT on January 31st.

As usual however, there are a few caveats to this...but not as many as the past two years:

OK, so I've just received word that Covered California has added exactly 290,137 new QHP enrollees as of January 18th.

This compares with the 238K new enrollees as of January 2nd, so that's around 52,000 additional people from 1/03 - 1/18, or 3,466 per day.

The official ASPE report, which ran through 12/27/15 for California, had their tally at 1,411,664, of which 84% were re-enrollees from 2015, which should be around 1.186 million.

Add 290K to that and you're up to roughly 1.476 million people.

My official target for California is 1.80 million, so CoveredCA has reached 82% of where I was expecting them to be by now...which is right in line with where I think things stand nationally.

Covered California sent out an interesting press release today:

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi visited the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), today to highlight a new report showing that thousands of Californians who have obtained health insurance as a result of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act have received vital treatment — including brain surgeries, heart transplants, cancer treatment and trauma care — since January 2014, when the health exchange opened its doors.

“Today’s report is the latest evidence that the Affordable Care Act is delivering on the promise of making health care a right for all, not just a privilege for the few,” Pelosi said. “Covered California has been an enormous success. Thanks to this historic law, nearly 1.3 million Californians now have affordable coverage through the Covered California marketplace — and this data today makes clear that Californians are using this coverage to access vital, high-quality health care.”

Every time Covered California issues a press release, it's like Lucy pulling away the football from Charlie Brown; I always think that this time they're gonna finally let me know how many current ACA exchange enrollees have re-enrolled for 2016...but it never has that number included. Considering that it could potentially be as high as 1.3 million people, that's kind of a big deal (although I realistically expect the number to be somewhere between 1.0 - 1.2 million at most).

Anyway, today is no exception: Zilch on the renewal numbers (and not even any updated new enrollment figures since the 197K they announced as of 12/15)...although they did include one interestingly-worded tidbit which is subject to quite a bit of speculation:

Covered California Highlights Major Health Insurance Changes for the New Year — New Penalties, New Requirements and, for Those With Coverage, Improved Benefits, More Options and More Access to Care

Color me impressed!

Covered California Experiences Record-Breaking Enrollment for Consumers Seeking Jan. 1 Coverage

More than 55,000 Sign Up Over Two Days As Covered California Extends Deadline for Consumers

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California announced Wednesday that more than 197,000 consumers had enrolled in health care coverage by the end of Tuesday, Dec. 15, including more than 22,000 on Monday and more than 32,000 on Tuesday.

The two-day total of more than 55,000 surpassed the enrollment figures seen last year during the same two day period when more than 35,000 people signed up for coverage on Dec. 14-15, 2014.

“The interest we have seen over the last two days is further proof of the continued demand that Californians have for quality, affordable health care coverage,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “We want to make sure that everyone who is working to get in the door has the time they need to get the coverage they deserve.”

This isn't particularly surprising now that HealthCare.Gov has already done the same thing, but it's still big news:

COVERED CALIFORNIA EXTENDS ENROLLMENT DEADLINE FOR JAN. 1 COVERAGE

Current enrollment surpasses last year’s demand

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Due to very high demand for health insurance through Covered California, the deadline to enroll for coverage starting Jan. 1 will be extended until Dec. 17 to accommodate the surge in interest.

The Service Center will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Dec. 16 and Dec. 17.

“The spike in interest we are seeing in the last few days tells us there is continued demand for quality, affordable coverage,” said Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “We already have enrolled more consumers this year for Jan. 1 coverage than we did last year.”

Covered California has heard from our certified enrollers, including agents, that they still are processing thousands of applications and appreciate the additional time to ensure consumers receive coverage for all of 2016.

“We want to make sure everyone calling for coverage gets the help they need,” Lee said.

Just a quick hit: There's now just under 7 hours to go before the December 15th deadline for January 1st coverage (I'm assuming the actual deadline is midnight Pacific time?), and it looks like we've indeed reached the server capacity limits of HealthCare.Gov; it placed me on the "Waiting Room" screen for a solid 10 minutes before redirecting me to the account login page.

Meanwhile, Covered California just issued the following statement:

COVERED CALIFORNIA EXTENDS SERVICE CENTER HOURS UNTIL MIDNIGHT TO HELP CONSUMERS BEAT KEY DEADLINE

This Just in...another partial enrollment report from Covered California: 

COVERED CALIFORNIA ENROLLMENT EXCEEDS 140,000 AS CRITICAL DEADLINE FOR COVERAGE APPROACHES

Consumers Must Enroll by Midnight on Dec. 15 to Be Covered on Jan. 1

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With just one day remaining to enroll for health insurance starting in January, Covered California announced that more than 140,000 consumers had enrolled in coverage by the end of Sunday, Dec. 13.

“Once again, Covered California is seeing an incredible surge of interest, and thousands of people are enrolling at storefronts, insurance agent offices and community centers across the state every day,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said. “Everyone who needs health insurance, or knows someone who does, should know they can get financial help to pay for top-brand health insurance coverage, and if they enroll by Dec. 15, their coverage can start on Jan. 1.”

Although open enrollment runs through Jan. 31, 2016, consumers must enroll by midnight Dec. 15 to have their coverage start by New Year’s Day.

As I noted a few weeks ago, Covered California has an annoying policy (they did this last year as well) of not publicizing how many current QHP enrollees have renewed their policies (or switched to a different exchange-based one) until well after the December deadline has passed.

Unfortunately, this means that today's enrollment report figure is very misleading, as it only includes NEW enrollees added:

As of Monday, Dec. 7, more than 83,000 Californians had selected plans through Covered California since open enrollment began on Nov. 1.

“Thousands of people are signing up every day for Covered California, and we’re off to a good start to meet our forecasted enrollment of 295,000 to 450,000 new enrollees during this third open-enrollment period,” Lee said.

Covered California has a slightly annoying policy (they did this last year as well) of not publicizing how many current QHP enrollees have renewed their policies (or switched to a different exchange-based one) until well after the December deadline has passed.

Unfortunately, this means that today's enrollment report figure is very misleading, as it only includes new enrollees added:

As of Nov. 17, approximately 6,000 new enrollees had elected to purchase a family dental plan at the time of enrollment. In addition, more than 27,000 current members had chosen to purchase a family dental plan at the time of renewal.

Covered California also announced Wednesday that more than 34,000 new consumers had selected a health insurance plan through the exchange since open enrollment began.

Via press release:

COVERED CALIFORNIA RELEASES REPORT ON CALIFORNIANS’ KNOWLEDGE OF THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT IN ADVANCE OF UPCOMING OPEN ENROLLMENT

Awareness of Covered California Is High, but Many Who Are Uninsured Still Don’t Know They Are Eligible for Financial Help to Buy Insurance

SACRAMENTO — With new research showing that many uninsured consumers who can benefit most still do not understand they can get financial help to buy health insurance, Covered California announced on Thursday that it will launch its third open-enrollment period Nov. 1 by spotlighting basic information about health insurance offerings, enrollment and care.

“We cannot ignore the reality that too many uninsured Californians still don’t know they can get financial help to buy brand-name insurance through Covered California,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “We are going to take to the airwaves and hit the road with a new campaign to make sure consumers know what we offer and where they can enroll.”

I planned on posting about this earlier today, but had to deal with a crisis for one of my Day Job clients (yes, I still have one believe it or not).

Early this afternoon, Covered California, the largest state-based ACA exchange in the country, held a conference call accompanied with a lengthy press release and a very nice slideshow full of pie charts and data points, giving a comprehensive overview of where things stand in the Golden State.

Hmmm...this is an unexpected development:

Looking to change health plans for 2016? Member renewal begins on October 12. http://t.co/3OVo9UaOpA pic.twitter.com/33eCPY0H5P

— Covered California (@CoveredCA) October 7, 2015

The tweet includes this graphic, which seems pretty clear cut to me:

I noted yesterday that 3 states (Maryland, Idaho and California) have already opened up window shopping to prospective 2016 enrollees.

However, it was my understanding that no one was allowed to actually enroll (ie, "select or renew a Qualified Health Plan") until 2016 Open Enrollment officially starts on November 1st.

A few days ago I noted that the Maryland Health Connection has officially launched window shopping for the 2016 open enrollment period (#OE3).

As it happens, at least two other state-based exchanges have done so as well:

COVERED CALIFORNIA: It's pretty obscure for the moment, but if you click the "Shop & Compare Tool" link at the lower left-hand corner of the CoveredCA website, you'll be given the option to shop around for 2016 plans (you can also choose 2015 plans in case you've had a qualifying life change and need coverage for the last 2 months of this year, or even 2014 plans if you still need that information for tax purposes or whatever):

YOUR HEALTH IDAHO:

Anonymously Shop and Compare Health and Dental Plans on Your Health Idaho

This Just In...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Line: (916) 206-7777 July 27, 2015

COVERED CALIFORNIA HOLDS RATE INCREASES DOWN FOR SECOND CONSECUTIVE YEAR

Average Increase Is 4 Percent; Consumers Who Shop Can Lower Their Premium by an Average of 4.5 Percent

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California announced its rates for 2016 and unveiled which health insurance companies will be offering plans through the marketplace. The statewide weighted average increase will be 4 percent, which is lower than last year’s increase of 4.2 percent and represents a dramatic change from the trends that individuals faced in the years before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

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