Colorado

 

In the 5 1/2 years that I've been operating this website (has it really been that long?), I was surprised (pun intended) to realize that out of the 5,600+ blog entries that I've posted, only 2-3 have mentioned "Surprise Bills" (also known as "Balance Billing", although I think there are some differences between the two):

OK, I'm not sure how this one slipped by me...over the past year, a half-dozen states having 1332 Waiver Reinsurance programs approved by CMS (among the few modifications of default ACA provisions approved by the Trump Administration that I agree with).

The states approved have included red ones like Wisconsin and Alaska...but also blue ones like Maryland and New Jersey. For whatever reason, CMS Administrator Seema Verma, while doing all she can to sabotage the ACA in other ways, seems to have a soft spot in her heart for reinsurance, which I'm not going to complain about.

In any event, along with the states which have already had their reinsurance waivers approved, there are several other states where reinsurance proposals have been proposed by either state legislators or governors, including the newly-elected governors of Michigan (Gretchen Whitmer) and Connecticut (Ned Lamont) respectively.

Back in mid-January, Connect for Health Colorado released their semi-final 2019 Open Enrollment Period report:

By the close of this year’s Open Enrollment, Coloradans had selected 169,672 medical insurance plans, which compares to 165,777 medical plan selections for the 2018 Open Enrollment period.

Hmmm...I'll have to look into these numbers a bit further. Colorado's 2018 Open Enrollment total was indeed 165,777 according to C4HCO...but according to CMS's official report it was only 161,764 QHP selections. This is the same thing which happened last year, when C4HCO reported 172,361 QHPs vs. CMS's 161,568. It's therefore possible that the final/official 2019 CMS report will put Colorado's total around 4,000 enrollees lower than my own numbers.

However, either way, Colorado joins Massachusetts in increasing their ACA open enrollment numbers every year for five years straight, bucking the national trend!

As I noted a few weeks ago, I haven't written a whole lot about the idiotic (but terrifyingly so) TexasFoldEm lawsuit in awhile. Part of this is because I was out of the country over the holidays; part is because there hasn't been a whole lot of movement on the case since right-wing federal Judge Reed O'Connor ruled that the ACA was unconstitutional using a legal argument so thin it hula hoops with a Cheerio.

Anyway, when I last checked in, a coalition of Attorneys General from 16 states (plus the District of Columbia) had formally filed to appeal Judge O'Connor's ruling, and the U.S. House of Representatives had also formally voted to intervene on behalf of defending the ACA from the lawsuit, which was filed last year by a coalition of 18 Republican Attorneys General, plus two Republican Governors.

Last year I briefly attempted to keep track off the dozens of various state-based "ACA 2.0" protection/improvement bills flying around various state legislatures. I eventually abandoned this project since it became too difficult to keep up with, but I'm still reporting case studies as they come to my attention...and Louise Norris has just alerted me to some pretty big changes going into effect in Colorado this April.

First up: Short-term plans are being heavily neutered. In addition to being limited to 6 months per year (which is still longer than the Obama Administration's 3-month cut-off)...

Short-term plans will have to charge older adults no more than three times as much as they charge younger adults. Short-term plans are generally not available after a person is 64, but a quick check of plans currently available in Colorado show that some insurers are charging a 64-year-old up to seven times as much as a 21-year-old. That will have to stop as of April.

This just in from Connect for Health Colorado...

Connect for Health Colorado® Sees Increase in Number of Coloradans Receiving Financial Help in Sixth Open Enrollment Period

DENVER – More than 169,000 Coloradans selected health coverage for 2019 through the state health insurance Marketplace by the close of Open Enrollment Tuesday, an increase of 2 percent over the previous Open Enrollment period, according to new data released today by Connect for Health Colorado®, and the number getting financial help buying insurance grew sharply.

About three of every four people—77 percent – who chose health insurance through Connect for Health Colorado qualified to receive financial help to reduce their monthly premium. That is up from 69 percent in 2018 and 61 percent in 2017.

A pop-up message appeared on the home page of Connect for Health Colorado on Tuesday the 15th:

If you encounter long hold times today and are unable to get through to our Customer Service Center on Jan. 15 to complete your enrollment, please contact our customer service center no later than 6:00 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 18 to complete your enrollment. At that time, you must let the representative know that you were unable to get through on Jan. 15.

Oddly, the message didn't include C4HCO's actual phone number: 855 752-6749

Colorado was already within 0.5% of surpassing last year's enrollment total as of January 3rd (just 712 enrollees shy); I'm certain they've beaten that number already.

From Covered California:

Covered California’s Iconic Bus Tour Rolls into San Francisco to Promote Health Insurance Enrollment Ahead of Final Deadline

  •  Covered California’s bus tour promotes enrollment and encourages consumers to see if they are eligible for financial help in obtaining quality health insurance.
  •  The San Francisco visit coincides with the release of Governor Gavin Newsom’s budget which focuses on making health care more affordable through increased financial help and a state individual shared responsibility provision.
  •  Consumers have through Jan. 15 to sign up and select a plan, through Covered California or directly with health plans, for Feb. 1 coverage.
  •  An estimated 1.1 million uninsured Californians are eligible to enroll in Covered California and research shows that 82 percent of uninsured consumers surveyed, who are eligible for financial assistance, do not know that they qualify.

This just in from Connect for Health Colorado...

Rural Counties Lead Connect for Health Colorado® 2019 Health Coverage Sign Ups; Many Have Already Passed 2018 Totals

DENVER – Rural counties are leading the way in Connect for Health Colorado® sign ups as the state health insurance marketplace heads to the last week of the 2019 Open Enrollment period.

Overall, 2019 health plan selections through Connect for Health Colorado are running about 3 percent ahead of the comparable period a year ago but many rural counties have already exceeded the number of plan selections made in the entire two-and-a-half-month Open Enrollment period in 2018.

By January 3, 2019, 30 of the state’s 64 counties had matched or exceeded the number of plan selections made during all of last year’s Open Enrollment. This year’s Open Enrollment runs through January 15.

So, it's over, right? Well...not quite. The 2019 ACA Open Enrollment Period officially ended last night...but only in 43 states. In the remaining seven (+DC), Open Enrollment hasn't ended yet2019 ACA Open Enrollment is still ongoing for nearly 10% of the population!

  • In Massachusetts, open enrollment runs through Jan. 23rd, 2019 for coverage starting February 1st

ALSO...

Apparently all of the state-based exchanges decided to release their 12/15 numbers at once this afternoon...(via email, no web link yet):

Connect for Health Colorado® Reports 5% Increase in Healthcare Plan Selections for 2019; Open Enrollment Continues Four Weeks

DENVER -- More than 156,000 Coloradans selected healthcare coverage for 2019 through the state health insurance Marketplace through December 15, 2018, a rate 5 percent ahead of signups one year ago, according to new data released today by Connect for Health Colorado®.

“I am happy with the pace of sign-ups for health insurance plans that take effect January 1,” said Connect for Health Colorado CEO Kevin Patterson.  “But we are still enrolling Coloradans who buy their own health insurance and will continue through January 15. For anyone who does not yet have coverage in place, it’s time to go to our site and pick your coverage for next year. In four weeks, the door closes for buying your 2019 health plan.” 

This just in...

Connect for Health Colorado Reports Increase in 2019 Medical Plan Selections

DENVER — More than 46,000 Coloradans selected health coverage through Connect for Health Colorado® during November, a number 6 percent ahead of the pace one year ago, according to new data released today.

“We started with a strong month but there are now only 12 days left to get coverage in place for Jan. 1,” said Connect for Health Colorado® CEO Kevin Patterson. “It is time for Coloradans who buy their own health insurance to act to protect their health and their family finances.”

During November, Connect for Health Colorado customers made 46,332 medical plan selections. The total was 43,881 medical plan selections for the comparable period in 2017. Fifteen percent of the plan selections are by customers who are new to Connect for Health Colorado and 85 percent are renewing customers.

Connect for Health Colorado® Reports Increase in 2019 Medical Plan Selections

DENVER — More than 25,000 Coloradans selected health coverage through Connect for Health Colorado® between Nov. 1 and Nov. 15, a number 13 percent ahead of the pace one year ago, according to new data released today.

“This number of initial sign-ups is the strongest start to an Open Enrollment Period we have seen,” said Connect for Health Colorado® CEO Kevin Patterson. “By acting early, these Coloradans will ensure their health coverage is in place Jan. 1, 2019, protecting their health and their family finances.”

The two-week period saw 25,614 medical plan selections. The total was 22,650 medical plan selections for the comparable period in 2017. Twelve percent of the plan selections are by customers who are new to Connect for Health Colorado and 88 percent are renewing customers.

Connect for Health Colorado® Customers See Lower Net Premiums, Simplified Application and Market Stabilization

DENVER — Connect for Health Colorado opens for business Thursday, November 1, with rate increases lower than the state has seen in years, a streamlined application process that will save Coloradans time obtaining financial assistance and all seven health insurance companies are returning in 2019, in a sign of a stabilizing marketplace.

More than 130,000 Coloradans got help paying for health insurance in 2018. Renewing customers qualifying for financial help will see their net premium – their cost after the Advance Premium Tax Credit – go down 24% on average in 2019.

This is thanks to the Power of Silver Loading and the Silver Switcharoo (Colorado chose to Broad Load in 2018 but is upgrading this year).

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