District of Columbia

via the DC Health Link, where DC residents can still #GetCovered until January 31st:

  • Latino leaders to discuss state of enrollment opportunities at 6th Annual Hispanic Leadership Health Forum; Enrollment and outreach events scheduled throughout DC

Despite national studies showing the Latino community saw the biggest drops in uninsured rates thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the uninsured rate for Latinos continues to be significantly higher than in other minority communities, according to a United States Census report.

DC Health Link, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Latino Affairs (MOLA), the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and many community-based organizations, will host its annual, action-packed week of intensive enrollment and outreach activities during its Annual Hispanic Enrollment Week of Action. DC Health Link is using this Week of Action to accelerate outreach efforts to promote, educate and motivate Latino enrollment in quality, affordable health insurance. The Hispanic Enrollment Week of Action runs through January 19, 2020.

Thursday, January 16, 2020, 9:00am – 12:30pm

Someone pointed me towards an official ACA Open Enrollment report for the DC Health Link from a few days ago. There's a bunch of demographic data broken out, but the bottom line is:

  • 18,611 people have selected individual market Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) for 2020
  • Officially, this is down over 5% vs. last year...however...
  • ...the final official total for the 2019 Open Enrollment Period was only 18,035 due to some last-minute clerical error corrections and/or purging of last-minute cancellations.

...which means that at least for the moment, DC is up 3.2% year over year.

Remember, DC residents can still #GetCovered through the end of January for coverage starting in either February or March, so this number should increase a bit more yet.

via DC Health Link by email:

Healthcare Open Enrollment Going Strong in Washington, DC!

  • DC Residents Can Sign Up for Quality Affordable Coverage Through Jan 31, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – District of Columbia residents still have more than six (6) weeks to sign up for quality, affordable health insurance through DC Health Link, the District’s state-based health insurance exchange established under the Affordable Care Act. While the final deadline has passed for individuals across the country to sign up for health insurance through the federal marketplace (HealthCare.gov), DC Health Link’s Open Enrollment for individuals and families continues on until January 31, 2020.  

OK, this isn't much of an extension, since the DCHealthLink.com exchange already lets people enroll as late as January 31st...but it's still important:

DC Health Link didn’t have any website issues on Sunday 12/15, but we know that news for other states may have caused confusion.

You now have until December 18 to sign up for a plan that starts January 1.

Visit DCHealthLink.com

#GetCoveredDC
#StayCoveredDC 

Press release from the DC Health Link website:

Mayor Bowser Encourages DC Residents to Get Covered During 2020 Open Enrollment Period

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Residents Must Enroll at DCHealthLink.com by December 15 for Coverage to Start January 1 

(Washington, DC­­) – Mayor Muriel Bowser is encouraging DC residents to sign-up for high-quality, affordable health insurance at DCHealthLink.com, the District’s online state-based health insurance marketplace established under the Affordable Care Act. Open enrollment for District residents runs through January 31, 2020. For coverage to be effective January 1, 2020, residents must enroll by December 15.

“If you are a District resident in need of health insurance, there is no better time to find an affordable, high-quality plan,” said Mayor Bowser. “We are proud that the District has been able to build on the Affordable Care Act and ensure every family has access to health insurance and the peace of mind that coverage provides.”

*(Yes, I know, the District of Columbia isn't actually a state, and Vermont's mandate is...well, read on...)

As the 2020 Open Enrollment Period rapidly approaches (it starts November 1st nationwide...except for California, where open enrollment is starting on October 15th), it's time to start getting the word out about some important things to keep in mind this fall.

One of the most critical things to remember for residents of California, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont is that each of these states* has reinstated an individual healthcare coverage mandate law/ordinance to replace the federal ACA mandate penalty which was zeroed out by Congressional Republicans back in December 2017. This means that if you live one one of them, unless you receive an affordability, hardship or other type of acceptable exemption, you'll be charged a financial penalty when you file your state/district taxes for 2020 in spring 2021 if you don't have qualifying healthcare coverage.

Back in mid-June, the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority posted the preliminary, requested average unsubsidized 2020 premium changes for the Individual and Small Group markets:

Overall individual rates increased an average of 9.0 percent and small group rates increased an average of 10.5 percent. In the individual market, CareFirst proposed an average increase of 7.7 percent for HMO plans, and 15.6 percent for PPO plans. Kaiser proposed an average increase of 5.0 percent. For small group plans, CareFirst filed average rate increases of 13.5 percent for HMO plans and 18.5 percent for the PPO plans. Kaiser small group rates proposed an average increase of 3.0 percent. Aetna filed for an average increase of 16.1 percent for HMO plans and 5.0 percent for PPO plans. Finally, United proposed an average increase of 13.0 percent and 7.4 percent for its two HMOs and 11.2 percent for its PPO plans.

This is what it looked like at the time:

MLR rebate payments for 2018 are being sent out to enrollees even as I type this. The data for 2018 MLR rebates won't be officially posted for another month or so, but I've managed to acquire it early, and after a lot of number-crunching the data, I've recompiled it into an easy-to-read format.

But that's not all! In addition to the actual 2018 MLR rebates, I've gone one step further and have taken an early crack at trying to figure out what 2019 MLR rebates might end up looking like next year (for the Individual Market only). In order to do this, I had to make several very large assumptions:

Back in mid-June, the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority posted the preliminary, requested average unsubsidized 2020 premium changes for the Individual and Small Group markets:

Overall individual rates increased an average of 9.0 percent and small group rates increased an average of 10.5 percent. In the individual market, CareFirst proposed an average increase of 7.7 percent for HMO plans, and 15.6 percent for PPO plans. Kaiser proposed an average increase of 5.0 percent. For small group plans, CareFirst filed average rate increases of 13.5 percent for HMO plans and 18.5 percent for the PPO plans. Kaiser small group rates proposed an average increase of 3.0 percent. Aetna filed for an average increase of 16.1 percent for HMO plans and 5.0 percent for PPO plans. Finally, United proposed an average increase of 13.0 percent and 7.4 percent for its two HMOs and 11.2 percent for its PPO plans.

This is what it looked like at the time:

via the Washington Informer:

D.C. residents are among tens of thousands of Americans left uninsured by a health insurance scam that collected more than $100 million in premiums for junk plans.

A special enrollment period from now through Aug. 30, via the DC Health Benefits Exchange Authority, has been earmarked for residents who bought the junk plans from a Florida-based operation that was recently shut down by a federal court.

Along with Massachusetts and Vermont, the District of Columbia merges their Individual and Small Group markets for purposes of risk pools and risk adjustment. This does not, however, necessarily mean that their Indy and Sm. Group average premium changes are identical. For one thing, there are more carriers which offer small group plans than individual market plans; for another, the market share ratios between the two differ.

A week ago, the DC Dept. of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) issued preliminary 2020 rate filings along with this press release:

Washington, DC – The District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) received 181 proposed health insurance plan rates for review from Aetna, CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Kaiser Permanente and United Healthcare in advance of open enrollment for plan year 2020 on DC Health Link, the District of Columbia’s health insurance marketplace.

As you can see, after yesterday's deep dive into the potential 10-year cost of the Medicare for America proposal, I'm easing back today with some easy quick hits. The DC Health Link exchange has posted their Individual and Small Business enrollment report as of May 5, 2019.

The numbers are all fairly small, of course, but a few noteworthy items: DC appears to have an 89% QHP enrollment retention rate as of May from the beginning of the year (they had 18,035 QHP selections as of 1/31/19), which is very good. SHOP enrollment is disproportionately high as always for DC, due to both the fact that they require all small business enrollments in the District to be handled via the exchange and the fact that members of Congress and their staff have to use the DC exchange to enroll in healthcare coverage.

Back in early December, I noted that while I applauded both New Jersey and the District of Columbia for creating their own individual healthcare coverage responsibility requirements (aka, The Individual Mandate) in response to Congressional Republicans repealing the ACA's federal penalty, doing so also required making sure that residents of NJ/DC *knew* they had done so:

There's only one problem with this: The impact of the mandate penalty is completely psychological in nature. It only works (to the extent that it does at all) if people know that they'll be penalized financially for not complying with the mandate.

Until now, I've been missing the final 2019 Open Enrollment Period numbers for two state-based exchanges: Vermont and the District of Columbia. VT is still radio silent, but last night the DC exchange authority held their monthly meeting and released their latest data report.

There's a bunch of handy demographic data included in the report...but some of it is also confusing and difficult to get an accurate year-over-year measurement due to a difference of time periods and enrollment status.

I've put in a request to sort some of this out and will update this entry if/when I receive clarification.

For instance, the DC exchange says that they have the following number of residents currently effectuated as of February 10th:

This Just In from DC Health Link...

DC Health Link Extends 2019 Open Enrollment Deadline to Wednesday, Feb. 6

Washington, DC­­ – DC residents will have an additional six days to sign up for 2019 health insurance coverage through DC Health Link.  The new deadline to sign up is 11:59pm on Wednesday, February 6.  Individuals who sign up by that deadline will have coverage beginning March 1, 2019.

DC Health Link customer service representatives will be available today at (855) 532-5465 from 8:00am to 8:00pm and on Monday, February 4th through Wednesday, February 6th to work with individuals seeking to enroll in health insurance coverage effective March 1. In-person assistance will also be available at enrollment centers throughout the District to assist residents with the enrollment process through February 6th.

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