Maryland

2018 MIDTERM ELECTION

Time: D H M S

As of this afternoon, 23,457 total applications. 9,735 apps complete. 16,743 Marylanders enrolled in QHP + Medicaid. #GreatStartMaryland

— MD Health Connection (@MarylandConnect) November 21, 2014

OK, without knowing the QHP/Medicaid breakout, I have to temper my data-geek about the 16.7K total. Even so, that's pretty impressive.

For comparison, through October 3rd, Maryland's ratio was around 81,000 QHPs to 263,000 Medicaid additions...or about a 1:3 ratio.

except that about 96,000 of these were "one time" bulk transferees from an existing state-run program. If you take them out, the ratio is more like 81K / 167K, or about 1:2.

Until I get a hard number, I'll err on the side of caution and go with the 1:3 ratio, which would mean around 4,000 QHPs and 12,743 added to Medicaid.

I'm pretty sure that in this case, "applications completed" does refer to actual "plans selected", judging from both the number from a day earlier (1,500) and the context of the quote, although I could be wrong (I also think that's supposed to read "through early Tuesday afternoon...")

Andrew Ratner, a spokesman for the exchange, said it seems to be working well so far. Ratner said 5,324 people have applied and 1,915 applications have been completed since early Tuesday afternoon.

We're launching online enrollment a day ahead of schedule. Enroll now at http://t.co/GpASXdzZeZ for quality, affordable 2015 health coverage

— MD Health Connection (@MarylandConnect) November 18, 2014

Yes, I know what you're saying: This is either a joke or a typo; how could Maryland be launching open enrollment a day early when 2015 #OE2 actually started 3 days ago?? Shouldn't that read "3 days late"?

Well, no, actually. As I noted back in September, due to the horrible technical problems which the MD Health Connection had with their original platform last year, they wisely decided to be extremely cautious this time around with their all-new software.

In short, instead of opening the floodgates all at once on the 15th, MD decided to take a phased approach:

OK, not much detail but the key number seems to be 1,500 exchange QHPs in the first 2 - 2 1/2 days: 

Since Saturday 42K visitors to http://t.co/GpASXdzZeZ 2,000 accounts created, 1500 enrollments started, 500 applications complete #GoodStart

— MD Health Connection (@MarylandConnect) November 17, 2014

By comparison, during the first open enrollment period, as of April 19th, Maryland had only enrolled 67,757 people in private policies, or 338 per day (or around 840 in 2.5 days).

So, right off the bat Maryland is doing twice as well so far this time around.

 

Yes, that's right. I'm posting a blog entry about exactly one person being enrolled. Let it never be said that I'm not meticulous in documenting my data:

Saturday was the first day of open enrollment in Maryland and around the nation on exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act for people who do not get health insurance through employers. In Maryland, residents received their first shot at gaining coverage at an enrollment fair in Glen Burnie, hosted by the state's nonprofit partner HealthCare Access Maryland.

Banda arrived at 9:22 a.m., 38 minutes early. She was fourth in line. By 9:30 a.m., about a dozen people were waiting, and organizers decided to get the day started early. Less than an hour later, she became the first enrollee on the state's new exchange website. Her plan will cost her $97 a month, she said, and her co-pay will be zero.

"I feel awesome," she said. "It's a relief. I feel that it's going to work for me."

And yes, I've even plugged the number into The Spreadsheet :)

 

I've ranted several times before about the importance of current Obamacare private policy enrollees making sure to actually visit the exchange website, shop aroundlog into your account and manually re-enroll for 2015, even if nothing has changed at your end (ie, no changes in income, dependents, residence etc).

There are many reasons NOT to auto-renew, most of which are financial in nature. The short version is, you could easily end up paying more than you thought next year by not switching (in addition to premium changes, your tax credit might drop even if your income hasn't changed due to how it's calculated), and you could pay substantially less next year if you do switch to another policy (premiums are actually dropping in many markets).

As promised, Maryland residents can start shopping around now for 2015 qualified health plan (QHP) policies on the all-new, completely overhauled Maryland Health Connection website:

Note that the actual enrollment capability won't be available until after November 15th (actually, they're rolling it out in stages this year, which strikes me as very wise given the technical problems MD had last time around:

Nov. 15 -- The first HealthConnectNow! sign-up event will be held. About 25 sign-up events are being scheduled throughout Maryland -- four times the number held during the first open enrollment. Details about times, dates and locations will be announced in the coming weeks.

Nov. 16 -- The call center opens to take phone applications at 855-642-8572 (TTY 855-642- 8573).

I have the press release as well, but this article from the Daily Record does a good job of summarizing the numbers:

More than 81,000 Marylanders had enrolled in private health insurance on the state’s health exchange as of Sept. 20, officials said Friday.

That’s an increase of 2,425 individuals since August.

At the end of September, 376,850 people had gained Medicaid coverage during 2014. That’s an increase of 21,569 over the past month.

However, over the past year, some people have been dropped from the Medicaid rolls. People can become ineligible for the public insurance program if their income increases or if they experience other changes, like in age or household status.

So, the net increase in Medicaid enrollment compared to December 2013 is 262,979 people, according to officials with the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange.

Like some other states, Maryland has made some poor decisions when it came to setting up their ACA exchange last year, necessitating scrapping the original platform and replacing it with a customized version of Connecticut's much better system. While it remains to be seen how well the 2nd attempt will function, this is a very smart move on their part:

BALTIMORE (Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2014) — The second year of Maryland’s health insurance marketplace for individuals and families begins on Nov. 9 when consumers will have access to a newly redesigned website that enables “anonymous browsing,” the ability to compare plans — without registering personal information — before enrolling. This feature is being launched earlier than originally planned to enhance the shopping experience for Marylanders.

...Starting November 9, the redesigned exchange will be rolled out with a series of events, including a more intensive campaign of in-person assistance to help consumers and businesses during the upcoming season of open enrollment: 

The Maryland Health Connection just issued their latest monthly enrollment report (running from 7/27 - 8/23). On the one hand, the QHP tally includes both new additions and dropped/cancelled enrollments this time around, making it useless for adding to my off-season enrollment projection chart...

Enrollment Data
As of August 23, 78,666 individuals have enrolled in qualified health plans.1

As of August 27, 2014, 355,281 individuals have gained Medicaid coverage in 2014 and remain active in Medicaid. This includes the 95,889 PAC enrollees who were automatically converted on January 1, 2014 to full Medicaid coverage. We have begun reporting the net changes in Medicaid enrollment. This figure takes into account that individuals lose Medicaid coverage because of changes in household, age and income, as well as redeterminations. Compared to December 31, 2013, the net change in Medicaid enrollment as of August 27, 2014 is +262,737. 

This Just In (busy day today)...

Commissioner Approves Premium Rates for 2015 Individual Market

(Baltimore) – Maryland Insurance Commissioner Therese M. Goldsmith today announced approved premium rates for individual health insurance plans to be offered in the State for coverage beginning January 1, 2015.

Premium rates for three of the six carriers currently participating in Maryland’s individual insurance market – All Savers Insurance Company, Evergreen Health Cooperative, and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States, Inc. − will drop by an average of 6.7 percent, 10.3 percent, and 14.1 percent, respectively. The other three carriers currently in the market, all CareFirst companies, received approval to increase premium rates by 9.8 percent (CareFirst BlueChoice, Inc.) or 16.2 percent (CareFirst of Maryland, Inc. and Group Hospitalization and Medical Services, Inc.), on average − substantial reductions from the 22.8 percent and 30.2 percent increases those companies requested for 2015.

I've been too busy with my day job (I do have one, you know...) to post much lately, but plenty of ACA-related news has piled up, so I'm clearing off my desk with some quick bits:

MARYLAND: An Amazing Healthcare Revolution Is Happening In Maryland — And Almost No One's Talking About It

The Maryland ACA exchange has been one of the "middle-tier" models in my view; not an utter disaster like the ones in Oregon or Massachusetts, but still riddled with technical problems like the ones in Minnesota & Vermont. However, the state has apparently had a different healthcare-related initiative which has been a huge success so far:

Through innovative methods and a data-centric approach, Western Maryland Regional Medical Center, has become the cornerstone in Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley's ambitious makeover of the state's healthcare programs.

Until this month, Maryland's reports were a bit irritating in two ways: First, they were running a month behind; second, the "thru dates" for the QHP numbers never quite lined up with the Medicaid number for some reason. With today's report, they've corrected both issues, bundling both June and most of July in and matching up the dates:

Enrollment Data
As of July 26, 2014, 332,504 individuals have gained Medicaid coverage in 2014 and remain active in Medicaid. This includes the 95,889 PAC enrollees who were automatically converted on January 1, 2014 to full Medicaid coverage.

Beginning this month, we will also report net changes in Medicaid enrollment. This figure takes into account the fact individuals lose Medicaid coverage because of changes in household, age, and income, as well as redeterminations. Compared to December 31, 2013, the net change in Medicaid enrollment as of July 26, 2014 is +273,245.

As of July 26, 78,930 individuals have enrolled in a qualified health plan.

The good news: While Maryland's enrollment numbers are still way below their expectations due primarily to a screwed-up exchange website, they're continuing to crank out smaller numbers of enrollees, and have now hit the 75K milestone:

Maryland enrolled about 75,000 people in private health plans, about half as many as the state initially aimed to sign up in private insurance plans. However, the state ended up enrolling about 300,000 people through Medicaid. The Connecticut health exchange technology was chosen largely because it was effective and preserves Medicaid enrollments.

The 300K Medicaid number is impressive, but I already have that number plugged in so no changes there.

On the down side, MD's move to an all-new exchange website platform (purchased from Connecticut), while a welcome move, will also require everyone who's receiving subsidies to re-enroll this November:

As I noted this morning, the Maryland Health Exchange has released an updated enrollment report running through the end of May (the June report will be out at the end of July):

As of May 31, 300,310 individuals have gained Medicaid coverage in 2014 and remain active in Medicaid. This includes the 95,889 PAC enrollees who were automatically converted on January 1, 2014 to full Medicaid coverage. 
 
As of May 31, 72,207 individuals have enrolled in a qualified health plan. 

Compared with the previous report, MD had a 4,300 QHP increase from 5/10 - 5/31, and an increase of 4,450 since the end of the open enrollment period. This means that they're averaging around 106 per day, or 31% of their average rate during open enrollment...which has had a significant impact on the Off-Season Projection Chart that I started posting yesterday (as you can see, MD had been only running 2% of the OE rate until now).

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