Did CMS execute a last-minute reversal on navigator program? That's what independent blogger Charles Gaba is reporting, posting what appear to be internal CMS documents that show the agency was poised to essentially renew last year's funding for this year's ACA open enrollment.
One document posted by Gaba indicates that Randy Pate — tapped by the Trump administration to run Medicare's Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight — signed off on $60 million in program funding on Aug. 24. More. However, CMS ultimately funded the program at less than $37 million for the upcoming enrollment, a 41 percent cut from last year.
New Hampshire's a bit of a head-scratcher this year: Of the three carriers on the individual exchange next year (each of whcih has a significant chunk of the market), Centene is requesting virtually no rate increases whatsoever...while the other two are asking to raise their rates by over 40% apiece.
Even more odd: Harvard Pilgrim's 42.5% seems to assume the worst regarding CSRs/mandate enforcement...yet Matthew Thornton (BCBS) is asking for 45.3% while assuming CSRs will be paid.
Of course, as I (and others on both sides of the political spectrum) have written about many, many times, not everyone who selects a QHP (either on or off the exchanges) actually pays their first premium, and therefore is never actually enrolled in an active, effectuated policy. This amounted to roughly 12-13% of all QHP selections in 2014, but has improved over the past 3 years as people got used to how the system works and technical improvements were made. I've been using a 10% non-payment rate as a general rule of thumb for some time now.
In New Hampshire, assuming 58,000 people enroll in private exchange policies by the end of January, I estimate around 31,000 of them would be forced off of their private policy upon an immediate-effect full ACA repeal, plus another 50,000 enrolled in the ACA Medicaid expansion program, for a total of 81,000 residents kicked to the curb.
As for the individual market, my standard methodology applies:
(sigh) OK, with three states still missing, you just knew I wouldn't rest until I was able to fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle. Sometime today, the HHS Dept. finally entered the approved rate hikes for individual makret carriers in two of those states: New Hampshire and Virginia. Louisiana is still AWOL for whatever reason.
It's important to note that sometimes the "Final Rate Increase" percentages listed at RateReview.HealthCare.Gov dont' actually end up matching the approved rate hikes found in the official SERFF databases or even at the state's Dept. of Insurance website. Normally I cross-check all three to make sure nothing weird is going on, but given that it's well past time to move on, I'm relying purely on the RateReview numbers for these states.
With that in mind, here's what it looks like in each:
When I originally calculated the average requested rate hike for New Hampshire, I came up with a weighted estimate of around 13.1%. A month later, the average dropped a few points...but not for a good reason: One of the remaining ACA-created Co-Ops, Community Health Options, decided to pull out of New Hampshire (they started out as a Maine-only operation, expaneded into nearby NH for the 2nd and 3rd year, but are pulling back to Maine-only again). Since CHO would otherwise have been requesting a more than 40% increase, them dropping out actually lowered the average increase for everyone else. This obviously illustrates a major caveat with my "average rate increase" methodology: It only applies to those who are able to renew their existing plans. The moment a carrier pulls out of parts/all of a state, or drops PPOs (while keeping HMOs), etc, I have to remove a portion of the existing enrollees from the equation completely.
Community Health Options, a Lewiston-based health insurance cooperative, has gotten approval to withdraw from the New Hampshire insurance market in 2017.
The plan was approved this week by the Maine Bureau of Insurance, which has been monitoring CHO’s finances as it tries to recover from a $31 million loss in 2015. The nonprofit cooperative has set aside more than $45 million in reserves to try to avoid another big loss this year.
Of course, as I (and others on both sides of the political spectrum) have written about many, many times, not everyone who selects a QHP (either on or off the exchanges) actually pays their first premium, and therefore is never actually enrolled in an active, effectuated policy. This amounted to roughly 12-13% of all QHP selections in 2014, but got a bit better over the next two years as people got used to how the system works and technical improvements were made. In addition, another chunk of QHP selections were scrapped by the HHS Dept. or state exchanges at later points thorughout 2014 for a variety of reasons ranging from legal residency issues to other data matching problems. Again, this percentage has been gradually whittled down as improvements to the system have been made.
New Hampshire has only 5 carriers offering individual market policies, all 5 of which will still be participating in the NH market next year as well. Two of the five (Community Health Options and Minuteman Health) are among the 7 surviving ACA-created Co-Ops.
Even so, NH is proving to be a very tricky state to estimate, because only one of the 5 carrier rate filings includes their actual current rate-impacted enrollment data. As a result, I've had to take my best shot at estimating the market share of the other four. The only way I could think of to do this was to look up the latest NH DOI 2016 QHP Monthly Membership Report. New Hampshire, to their credit, is one of the only states without their own state-based ACA exchange which still actually posts regular reports about how many residents are enrolled in ACA exchange policies. Furthermore, they even break these numbers out by metal level and carrier, making the relative market share easy to calculate.
A couple of days ago I noted that after two years of nothing but doom & gloom (and coming just a week after UnitedHealthcare pulled the plug on the individual market in over two dozen states) there seems to finally be some positive developments, with companies like Centene and Anthem reporting better-than-expected results. They may not be making a profit yet, but at least they aren't losing money hand over fist the way they did the first couple of years.
I also made a brief mention of the Maryland Co-Op, Evergreen Health, which reported their first quarterly profit since launching 2 1/2 years ago.
Consumer operated and oriented health plans in Maryland, New Mexico and Massachusetts will report profits in the first quarter, in a sign that some of the remaining Affordable Care Act-created nonprofits could be finding their footing on the state exchanges.
At the time, I noted that unlike most states, their effectuated numbers seem to have increased from February to March (January doesn't really apply since Open Enrollment was still ongoing at the time):
January 2016 Exchange-Based QHP Enrollment: 49,937 (+33,604 PAP enrollees)
February 2016 Exchange-Based QHP Enrollment: 53,109 (+38,735 PAP enrollees)
March 2016 Exchange-Based QHP Enrollment: 55,212 (+43,732 PAP enrollees)
In a classic case of missing the forest for the trees, I posted two very wonky, detailed entries over the past couple of days about Minnesota and Connecticut's latest enrollment numbers...but completely missed one crucially important data point.