END OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD (Connecticut & Maryland)

Time: D H M S

Missouri

With only 5 days to go before the launch of the 2018 Open Enrollment Period, time is rapidly running out for me to wrap up my 2018 Rate Hike Project. I started this, as I have for 3 years now, back in late early May with the very first requested rate changes out of Virginia, and have been tracking all 50 states as the summer and fall have passed, following every twist and turn of the insane repeal/replace circus in Congress, Trump's bloviating and blathering about "blowing things up" and "letting Obamacare explode", the last-ditch "Graham-Cassidy" sideshow and everything else, right up to and through Trump lowering the boom on cutting off CSR reimbursement payments.

Thanks to Zach Tracer for the heads up!

My 2018 Rate Hike project petered out a few weeks back with the requested rate increases posted for 46 out of 50 states (along with DC). Unfortunately, the last 4 states (Kansas, Missouri, Nevada and Utah) decided to keep their cards close to their chest, delaying any public viewing of even the requested rate increases for awhile longer.

Between updating the "Who could lose coverage" graphics, prepping for my town hall thing last night and updating the 2018 Rate Hike project, I've gotten way behind on my "Who's saying 'screw rate hikes, I'm just gonna bail completely next year' updates. Let's take care of that now, OK? The first three updates are courtesy of Louise Norris writing for healthinsurance.org; the fourth is vai Kimberly Leonard for the Washington Examiner:

IDAHO: BridgeSpan is out, 4 carriers staying put:

Insurers in Idaho had to submit forms for 2018 plans by May 15, but they have until June 2 to file rates. Mountain Health CO-OP, SelectHealth, PacificSource and Blue Cross of Idaho all filed forms to continue to offer Your Health Idaho plans in 2018.

As I noted when I crunched the numbers for Texas, it's actually easier to figure out how many people would lose coverage if the ACA is repealed in non-expansion states because you can't rip away healthcare coverage from someone who you never provided it to in the first place.

My standard methodology applies:

Last week I noted that with 41 states accounted for and the 2017 Open Enrollment Period quickly bearing down on everyone, it was time to pull the plug on my 2017 Average Rate Hike project and move on. I had come up with an overall national weighted unsubsidized average rate increase of around 25% for ACA-compliant individual market plans.

However, I also noted that I'd make sure to fill in the approved rates for the remaining 10 states as they came in, for completeness sake...and today, thanks to the HHS Dept. cutting the ribbon on 2017 Window Shopping at HealthCare.Gov, I've also been able to fill in the blanks for five of the remaining states all in one shot (the other five remain elusive).

Lots of stuff happening fast & furious these days as #OE4 approaches. Instead of individual posts, I'm gonna cram 7 state updates into a single one...and am also cheating a bit by cribbing off of excellent work by Louise Norris over at healthinsurance.org (which is fair, since she also gets some of her data from me as well):

ALABAMA: Here's what my requested rate hike table looked like for Alabama on August 1st:

Updates: Norris Confirms that:

OK, there's something very odd going on with Missouri's 2017 rate filings for the individual market. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, Missouri's entire individual market was around 344,000 people in 2014. While it's likely increased by around 25% since then, that would still only bring it up to around 430,000 people including both grandfathered and transitional enrollees, which sounds about right to me (290,000 enrolled via the ACA exchange, which would leave around 140,000 off-exchange).

And yet, when I plug in the official rate filings for Missouri's individual market for 2017, here's what it looks like:

Don't get me wrong, this is great news from a transparency pov...

Coalition cheers Health Insurance Rate Review bill passage

The House followed the Senate’s unanimous approval of SB 865, sponsored by Sen. David Sater, with a 140-6 vote, moving the “Health Insurance Rate Review” bill to the Governor’s desk on Tuesday.

In addition to rate review, the bill will modify provisions regarding licenses issued by the Board of Pharmacy and covered prescription benefits, delineates procedures for PBMs with regards to MAC lists, and requires health carriers to offer medication synchronization services.

The advancement was cheered by Missouri Health Care for All (MHCFA), who believe the bill will bring more transparency to insurance premiums.

When UnitedHealthcare announced last month that they were making good on their threat last fall to pull out of the individual market in over two dozen states next year, it caused shockwaves across the health insurance industry. It is an important development, as around 800,000 people will be impacted.

When Humana announced last week that they plan on pulling out of the individual market in at least 5 states next year, it was interesting and a bit of a bummer, but not nearly as earthshattering, because only about 25,000 people will have to shop around and find a new carrier.

Today, it is my duty to announce that Celtic insurance has also decided to pull out of the entire individual insurance market (both on and off-exchange) across at least 6 states, including:

When I was crunching the numbers to come up with my rough estimate of the weighted average rate increase requests for Florida yesterday, I had a revelation: While Healthcare.Gov's Rate Review database, frustratingly, only includes rate requests higher than 10% (thus ignoring dozens of requests of under 10%, or even rate reductions in some cases), it does still at least provide guidance as to what the maximum average could possibly be.

For instance, let's say that there's a state with 4 insurance carriers, each of which has exactly 10,000 enrollees. Two of them are asking for a 20% and 15% increase respectively. Since those are both above 10%, they'll both show up on the Rate Review site:

Part of the key to the successful enrollment of over 8 million* people last year and around 12 million* this year in the various ACA exchange policies has been the army of so-called "navigators" or "assisters" who, along with private health insurance brokers, helped educate millions of people about how the exchanges work, what their best options were and how to go through the procedure.

Unfortunately, some states (those run by administrations of a certain crimson hue, shall we say) decided, in their effort to obstruct Obamacare at every possible opportunity, to be utter jackasses by ginning up absurd regulations/restrictions about who "qualified" to be an ACA navigator.

The poster child for this ass-jackery was Ralph Hudgens, the Insurance Commissioner of Georgia, who actually bragged about his efforts:

Last October, at the height of the botched HC.gov rollout, I repeatedly commented over at Daily Kos:

 I still don't know why they didn't roll it out one state per day; if they'd gone alphabetically, they would have had a solid week to work the kinks out with a (relatively) low volume before hitting a big state:

  • Alabama, Alaska, Arizona and Arkansas are all relatively low-population.
  • California, Colorado, Connecticut and Delaware* are all state-run exchanges.
  • That means they wouldn't have hit Florida on the federal site until tomorrow.

I know that the system still would have had serious software issues, but at least they wouldn't have to deal with the massive overload of traffic at the same time that they were trying to fix the issues.

*(Obviously I was mistaken at the time about Delaware running their own exchange, but it's still a low-population state so my point was still valid...and of course the District of Columbia does run their own exchange).

Well, obviously it was too late for that at the time, and they've since scrambled to get their act together on the individual exchange side.

OK, as noted a little earlier, I underestimated the February HHS Report for Exchange-based Private QHP enrollment by about 4.2%:

  • My Projection: 902,800 (4.202 million total)
  • Actual Enrollments: 942,833 (4.242 million total)

I'm perfectly happy to have underestimated. As for where the extra 40,000 enrollments came from, my initial guess would be that California, in particular, started ramping up their big March blitz a bit earlier and more successfully than I figured, which, again, I'm absolutely fine with. Update: Nope, actually, California's numbers plummetted in the 2nd half of Feb due to that ugly technical outage; see below for details.

I'm busily plugging the new enrollment numbers into the spreadsheet even as I type this, and will be updating with various notes and observations, so keep checking in.

OK, I've entered the QHP data; a couple of things to note:

UPDATE: On the down side, I was off by 4% this time around.

On the up side, I UNDERESTIMATED:

Actual Feb. enrollments: 942,833, for a total of 4,242,325 thru 3/01/14.

Sarah Kliff at Vox just announced that the February HHS report is expected to be released today at around 4:00pm. A few items in anticipation of that:

  • As I've noted several times, I'm projecting the report to total around 902,000 exchange-based private QHP enrollments for the month of February (technically 2/02 - 3/01)
  • If accurate, this would bring the cumulative total of exchange-based private QHP enrollments to 4.202 million (from 10/1/13 - 3/01/14)
  • From the data I have, the average daily enrollment rate in February was almost identical to that of January, which had about 1.146 million QHP enrollments. HOWEVER, the January report included five weeks of data (12/28 - 2/01), while the February report will only include four weeks (2/02 - 3/01). Therefore, even at the same daily average, it'll be about 20% lower no matter what.
  • Don't be surprised if Peter Lee of CoveredCA decides to steal some thunder by announcing that California has enrolled 1,000,000 QHPs all by itself either today or tomorrow. However, that would include the past 10 days, while the HHS number will only run thru 3/01.
  • If you want to get REALLY specific, call it 902,800 and 4,202,292.
  • I've been dead-on target 6 times in a row without hyping up my projections beforehand. This time I am hyping myself up beforehand, so I'll probably be way off...but as long as I've UNDERestimated the tally, I'll be perfectly fine with that...
  • The report will be released in about 5 minutes, but my kid gets home from school in about 10, so it'll be a good 20 minutes before I can really post anything. Feel free to follow Sarah Kliff of Vox in the meantime!

I believe this is my first Missouri-specific QHP update: Their private enrollments went up from 54,147 as of February 1st to "about 68,000" by February 20, an increase of 13,853. Like the average of the other 17 states I have post-2/1 data for, Missouri's February enrollment rate appears to be very close to what it was in January, so I'm still confident of my appx. 902,000 February HHS report projection.

As of Feb. 20, about 68,000 Missouri residents had enrolled in private health plans through the online insurance marketplace, most of whom received federal subsidies to help offset the cost of premiums, said Ryan Barker, vice president for health policy at the Missouri Foundation for Health, a nonprofit group that's promoting the insurance marketplace.