Colorado

2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

Woo-Hoo! My son's fever finally broke, and my internet service is back on; things are looking up!

I can post a couple of updates now:

At the end of July, Connect for Health Colorado had enrolled just over 140K people in QHPs via the individual exchange, plus around 2,400 small business employees/dependents in SHOP plans.

As of the end of August, these numbers are up to 143,524 and 2,470 respectively.

 

OK, I'm feeling a bit foolish now. Earlier today I lamented the fact that the number of state exchanges issuing regular updates continues to dwindle. A few moments ago I realized that I hadn't checked in on Colorado in awhile, and sure enough, they've posted an update through the end of July.

No Medicaid numbers are included, but the exchange QHP tally has risen by another 3,750, to break the 140K milestone at 140,355.

The enrollment rate in CO has dropped a bit since earlier this summer, but they're still running pretty strong. With the new updates from CO and MN, my off-season enrollment projection has dropped a bit as well and now ranges between 8,100 - 10,900/day, still centered squarely on the 9,000/day mark.

SHOP enrollments, meanwhile, have gone up a whopping 19, to 2,392.

Yes, I'm quoted extensively in this CNBC piece by Dan Mangan, and yes, I rip on the HHS Dept. quite a bit in it (towards the end) for their continuing failure to issue monthly ACA enrollment reports during the off season. However, in terms of actual new enrollment data, there's a bit earlier in the story which caught my eye:

...at least 10 of those [state-run] exchanges have disclosed, at some point, how many people have paid their first month's premiums.

For example, a spokeswoman for Colorado's exchange, in a statement to CNBC, said: "As of June, we received data from the health insurance carriers that show 89.9 percent of Coloradans who purchased private health insurance through Connect for Health Colorado paid their first-month premium. There is some lag in data, so we anticipate that percentage may actually be higher ... we obtain this data from each of our 17 carriers and anticipate more complete information as we move forward."

I posted about Colorado's June enrollments a couple of weeks ago, but that was a rounded number and apparently was mixing in SHOP enrollees with QHPs. The official report has been released, and the numbers are a bit worse than I thought (though still impressive for off-season enrollment): 136,605 QHPs and 2,373 SHOP enrollments.

As of the previous update (5/31), Colorado was averaging around 177 QHP enrollees per day in the post-open enrollment period (7,413 / 42 days). With this latest update (dated June 24), they've actually increased this average slightly (4,185 / 23 = 182/day), for an overall off-season average of 178 per day:

The number of new enrollees in private health insurance through the state exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, continues to inch upward by about a couple hundred a day — and now stands at 137,000, officials said Tuesday.

Although open enrollment officially ended March 31 with 118,000 signups, it unofficially ended at 124,000 in mid-April as people who started before the deadline finally finished the process.

This stability makes me more confident of my 9K - 12K/day off-season estimate, since the late April/early May enrollments might otherwsie have just been chalked up to unprocessed leftovers from the enrollment extension period. However, the rate increasing (if only slightly) suggests that for Colorado, at least, the off-season rate seems to be pretty stable.

At the end of the official enrollment extension period (technically 4/19), Colorado's exchange QHP tally stood at 125,402. As of the end of May, it was up to 132,815, with SHOP enrollments up to 2,135. This means Colorado's QHP total went up around 6% since open enrollment ended, or around 177 per day.

OK, according to the March/April HHS report, Colorado's official QHP tally as of 4/19 was 125,402. However, according to the state exchange itself, the tally as of 4/15 (the actual end of open enrollment) was 127,233. I'm not sure whether the difference is due to purging unpaid enrollments, clerical errors on one side or the other or what, but they appear to have added either another 2,919 QHPs between 4/20 - 5/03, or another 1,088 between 4/16 - 5/03, depending on which starting number/date you use:

Reporting Period: 10/1/13 - 5/3/14

  • Covered Lives:
    • Individual: 128,321
    • SHOP: 1,983

 

I'm assuming this is due to correction of some clerical errors, double entries, unpaid or cancelled acounts and so on, but the 4/26 county-by-county tally from Connect for Health Colorado is actually about 1,500 lower than the 4/19 total from the HHS report:

123,899

 

I know, I really shouldn't give an outfit like this the time of day much less any more exposure than they already have, but I can't help myself. There's an anti-ACA blog called "Uncover Obamacare" (not to be confused with "UnskewObamacare.com") which has "dug up" what they seem to feel is a real "James O'Keefe"-style "hidden camera" moment in the bowels of the Connect for Health Colorado administrative office:

Patty Fontneau, the Colorado Healthcare Exchange CEO, spoke at a hearing of a Colorado Legislative Review Committee yesterday, discussing the critical need to get young people to sign up for their state ObamaCare exchange. This is a problem that the White House and other states are facing as well. To make the math work for ObamaCare, young healthy people have to sign up to help pay for the old sick people. That’s been a tough challenge so far.

But don’t worry, Ms. Fontneau has a plan! A creepy, creepy plan: “The Three Ps.” Those three Ps are peer pressure, parental pressure and increased penalties. Because, that sounds like a good idea.

Colorado issued a rough update the other day ("over 124K"), but they gave the official 4/15 tally today:

  • Exchange-based Commercial Health Insurance (QHPs): 127,233
  • New Medicaid Enrollees: 178,508

Oh, by the way: The "over 124K" press release issued on the 14th was a big part of the reason why I downshifted my total projection from the 7.9-8.0M range down to around 7.78M a few days back. I assumed that the only reason they would issue a number press release the day before the deadline would be if the enrollments were tapering off so much that there would only be a handful left to count on the final day.

Obviously I was wrong; CO managed to add another 3K QHPs on the last day.

I said I'd keep the poll for the "woodworker" terminology open until tonight, but until I decide what to do about it I'll be continuing to use that term for consistency.

This article from Kaiser Health News brings solid numbers for Colorado, but also gives other good info about the Medicaid situation. For instance, they give a simple explanation of where the term comes from...

Hundreds of thousands of those people were already eligible and could have signed up even before the Affordable Care Act made it much more generous.

They came “out of the woodwork” to get enrolled, analysts say, thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and publicity around its new marketplaces.

...then they give the exact number in Colorado...though only through the end of February...

It took me a few minutes to figure out why, at this point, Colorado would issue a formal press release with a "final" number when there's still a day and a half to go. However, I realized that it probably simply means that practically everyone who qualified for the 4/15 extension has already done so by now; presumably they're already over 124K and there's only a few hundred partial applications left anyway, so their final tally will come in somewhere between 124K - 125K, thus allowing them to confidently release the news.

On the down side, if this "winding down" effect is true in most other states, it also suggests that instead of one final mini-spike, the 4/15 deadline will actually result in a severe drop-off, making the final total more like 7.7M instead of 7.8M, but that's fine as well.

In any event, CO is up another 3,000 exchange QHPs since last week to over 124K total.

UPDATE 4/14: From a Denver Post article on the same topic:

About 500 small employers participated in the Small Business Marketplace, or SHOP, which saw 220 enroll, covering 1,860 employees and family members.

That's a whopping increase of...90 people. Still, every one counts...

CO had the official exchange QHP tally as 118,628 as of 3/31, so this means they've added another 2,343 to that total over the past week. The Medicaid number hasn't been updated:

Connect for Health Colorado reports that nearly 280,000 state residents gained coverage during the six-month enrollment period, including 120,971 who signed up for private insurance plans as of Monday and 158,521 who enrolled in the expanded Medicaid program as of April 1. In an interview last fall, Patty Fontneau, CEO of the non-profit organization running the exchange, had estimated that 125,000 to 140,000 Coloradans would sign up for insurance through the exchange during its first year.

Up from 1,300...

So far, 198 companies have bought SHOP policies for 1,770 covered lives — both their employees and their employees’ dependents, Sugden said. That's less than a large state like California, but ahead of other states that have not even been able to launch their small-business exchange, he said.

...The SHOP is attracting about 40 new companies per month right now, a number that will continue to rise because companies can continue to buy policies throughout the year, he said.

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