Healthcare.Gov

As expected, Week Eight was extremely quiet; not only did the entire week take place after the (extended) deadline for January coverage, but there was also Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to contend with. Needless to say, very few people feel like enrolling in healthcare coverage on December 24th or 25th.

Last year, just 96,000 people chose to do so between 12/20 - 12/26 in the 37 states covered by HC.gov. I was expecting slightly more this year (100K even), but only 74,000 did...26% fewer than the same week in 2014. Whatever else is going on, it's safe to say that the Open Enrollment Periods are starting to become more and more "front-loaded".

As I noted last Tuesday, the Week Seven HC.gov Snapshot Report threw a bit of a curveball; while they did add most of the bulk auto-renewals to the total, they also stated that some unknown number had yet to be added. As far as I can tell, that number could be as low as 1...or (theoretically) as high as 680,000. My best spitball take is that it was somewhere around 150,000, which presumably have all been added to this week's report.

As for new enrollments, with Week Eight taking place a) entirely after even the extended deadline for January coverage and b) the same week as Christmas Eve and Day, I'm not expecting many to be added; perhaps 100,000 or so, for a grand total of roughly 250,000 for the week, which in turn would bring the cumulative total (for the federal exchange only) up to right around 8.50 million even.

NOTE: Today is October 1st, 2016, the 3rd anniversary of the disastrous launch of HealthCare.Gov. To mark the occasion, I'm dusting off this post from last December.

There were a lot of numbers tossed around in today's big HealthCare.Gov enrollment news, but I want to focus on just one number in particular:

600,000.

Six hundred thousand people actively enrolled in private healthcare policies on Tuesday, December 15, 2015 by using HealthCare.Gov.

Forget about the cumulative total for a moment. Forget about the auto-renewals still to be added. Forget about the state-based exchanges. Just focus on the fact that in a single 24-hour period, 600,000 people signed up through the federal exchange site only.

Now think back to October 2013, when HC.gov and 17 state-based exchange websites launched...and, for the most part, immediately crashed and burned.

This Just In...

“Because of the unprecedented demand and volume of consumers contacting our call center or visiting HealthCare.gov, we are extending the deadline to sign-up for January 1 coverage until 11:59pm PST December 17. Hundreds of thousands have already selected plans over the last two days and approximately 1 million consumers have left their contact information to hold their place in line. Our goal is to provide access to affordable coverage, and the additional 48 hours will give consumers an opportunity to come back and complete their enrollment for January 1 coverage. ”

--Kevin Counihan, CEO of the Health Insurance Marketplaces

Welp, you can probably throw The Graph out the window now, at least in terms of the "spike" hitting right around now. My model was based on the assumption that yes, there'd be a huge spike yesterday and today, followed by perhaps 3 million auto-renewals being tacked on all at once tomorrow/Thursday.

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

As always: I could be dead wrong here. It's entirely possible that my recent tweaking of The Graph, which projected that 1.5 million people would select exchange QHPs between 12/06 - 12/12 via HealthCare.Gov alone and continued to see the number shoot up from there for December 13th, 14th and 15th is way off the mark.

HOWEVER, assuming that both the Week Six total as well as the "spike" trend I projected turn out to be accurate, that means that these final days should be playing out something like the following:

  • Sunday, 12/13: Around 350K nationally (270K via HC.gov)
  • Monday, 12/14: Around 460K nationally (350K via HC.gov)
  • Tuesday, 12/15: Around 780K nationally (600K via HC.gov)

Yes, that's right, it's conceivable that HealthCare.Gov could see up to 600,000 people select private policies in a single 24-hour period tomorrow, plus up to another 180,000 via the various state exchanges.

Some Guy, 11/12/15:

By my reckoning, total national QHP selections should hit around 1.33 million by the end of Week Two, of which around 1.07 million should be via HealthCare.Gov. I the expect around 1.9 million in Week Three, around 2.4 million by Thanksgiving, and then start ramping up to around 6.3 million by the 12/15 deadline for most states.

CMS Dept., just moments ago:

Health Insurance Marketplace Open Enrollment Snapshot: Week 2: November 8 – November 14, 2015

The second week of Open Enrollment for Marketplace coverage saw millions more Americans exploring their health insurance options by calling the call center, attending enrollment events, or visiting HealthCare.gov or CuidadoDeSalud.gov.

The official tally of QHP selections nationally during the 2015 Open Enrollment Period (from 11/15/14 - 2/22/15) was 11,688,074 people.

The actual number of people still enrolled in effectuated plans (i.e., active) as of March 31, 2015, according to the HHS Dept., was 10,187,197 people. That's a net reduction of exactly 1,500,877.

On the surface, that may look bad, but bear in mind that with a 90% payment rate (which I suspect is actually pretty close to the non-ACA industry standard, and which is about 2 points better than last year), that means only about 10.5 million of the original enrollees would have been expected to actually be enrolled in March anyway. That leaves another 332,000 people who presumably paid up for January, February and/or March, but had dropped their policies by the end of March.

Almost lost in today's final* "weekly snapshot" report on Healthcare.Gov enrollment was this tidbit regarding the renewed enrollment breakout:

*(I really, really hope this isn't the final one...)

“More than half of the 4.17 million people who re-enrolled in coverage during Open Enrollment came back and actively selected a plan and more than half of those consumers selected a new plan,” said Andy Slavitt, Principal Deputy Administrator of CMS. “Based on my experience looking at enrollment trends with employer-sponsored coverage and Medicare, it is clear that Marketplace consumers are more active, engaged, and eager to shop for the coverage that's right for them.”

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