New Hampshire

(sigh) OK, this one is not related to the Risk Corridor Massacre, since Community Health Options was actually profitable in 2014 and therefore never qualified for any RC payments anyway. Also, unlike the dozen ACA-created co-ops which are in the process of winding down operations by the end of the year, CHO is not going out of business, and in fact is remaining fully operational for 2016.

Having said that, this development is still a serious bummer given the carnage wreaked across the co-op landscape earlier this fall:

Maine's Community Health Options said Dec. 9 that it will cut short its sales of individual policies for 2016, in a sign that it is the latest Affordable Care Act-funded consumer operated and oriented plan to encounter financial difficulties.

I admit that given the carnage of the past couple of weeks, I'm almost afraid to post this entry...but I had to write something positive about the CO-OP situation.

With the ACA-created CO-OPs seemingly dropping like flies due to the #RiskCorridorMassacre, I thought this would be a good time to flip things around and look at which CO-OPs are doing well (or at least not badly).

This isn't much, but it'll do for now:

Wisconsin's insurance department says it has no intention of shutting down its #ACA co-op, which appears it will remain solvent next year.

— Bob Herman (@MHbherman) October 22, 2015

@charles_gaba and at this point, other than Maine, it's difficult to expect many others will last beyond risk corridors.

— Bob Herman (@MHbherman) October 22, 2015

Louise Norris has again done some of the heavy lifting for me over at healthinsurance.org, this time for New Hampshire:

In 2015, New Hampshire’s exchange had five carriers, up from just one in 2014.  There will still be five carriers in 2016, although there’s one swap:  Assurant/Time is exiting the market (nationwide), but Ambetter (offered by Celtic) is joining the exchange in New Hampshire.

...Two carriers in the exchange – Minuteman Health and Community Health Options – have requested double digit rate increases, although they have not yet been approved.  Both carriers are CO-OPs created under the ACA, and both expanded into New Hampshire at the start of 2015, so their claims data for the state is very limited. 

This article about New Hampshire reveals 3 noteworthy bits of information: First, it looks like at least one of the 37 HC.gov states will be reporting their exchange enrollments monthly during the off-season, even if the HHS Dept. itself refuses to do so:

The New Hampshire Insurance Departmentrecently began requiring insurance companies selling plans through the marketplace to submit monthly enrollment numbers.

Second, here's the first results of those monthly reports:

 According to the latest numbers, a total of 45,504 people had signed up for plans in New Hampshire by April 1

I have a ton of ACA-related stories cluttering up my in-box again; here's some of the more interesting ones, all regarding ACA Medicaid Expansion:

MICHIGAN:

For months now, I've been a bit obsessed with figuring out how my home state's Medicaid expansion enrollment has managed to reach as high as 21% more people than were supposedly even eligible for the program. Estimates last year ranged from 477,000 - 500,000, yet enrollment in Healthy Michigan (Gov. Snyder's name for Obamacare Medicaid Expansion) currently sits at a whopping 579K, less than 1 year into the program.

New Hampshire's ACA Medicaid expansion program got a late start, not kicking off until July 1st of this year. That makes the fact that they've already reached 50% of their total potential enrollment all the more impressive:

State officials had expected 30,000 to 40,000 of the estimated 50,000 eligible adults would sign up in the first year either through the state's managed care program for Medicaid or a program that subsidizes existing employer coverage. As of mid-week, just fewer than 25,300 had signed up.

 

Looks like New Hampshire is switching from "standard" Medicaid expansion to an Arkansas-like "Private Medicaid Option" program next year...and it includes an enrollment update:

"This waiver is an important part of our efforts to improve the health and financial well-being of Granite State families, businesses and communities through our bipartisan health care expansion plan, "Governor Hassan said. " Almost 24,000 Granite Staters have the security that comes with quality, affordable health insurance because of the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, and if approved, this waiver will allow these people to choose private insurance on the health insurance marketplace."

...The purchase of Qualified Health Plans via the marketplace will be paid for with 100 percent federal funds through December 31, 2016.

Through the 19th of November, 23,975 New Hampshire citizens had enrolled in the New Hampshire Health Protection Program.

Last year, New Hampshire had but a single participant in the federal ACA exchange: Anthem BCBS. This year, not one, not two, not three, but four other companies have joined in

Two more insurance companies say they plan to sell policies in New Hampshire’s health exchange in 2015, bringing the total to five carriers. The suddenly crowded field is a sharp contrast to this year, when only Anthem is offering policies through healthcare.gov.

Harvard Pilgrim and Minuteman Health, both based in Massachusetts, announced their intentions to join the exchange earlier this year, and now the New Hampshire Insurance Department says Assurant Health and Maine Community Health Options have also submitted plans for regulatory review.

We don't have a full average-premium percentage breakdown like there are for other states, but this is certainly promising:

Well isn't this a breath of fresh air!!

WASHINGTON -- Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen refused to shy away from Obamacare on Tuesday in the first televised debate of the New Hampshire Senate race.

Shaheen, one of several vulnerable Democrats up for re-election in November, forcefully defended the health care law moments after Scott Brown, her Republican opponent, said he would fight to repeal it. When specifically asked if Obamacare was a proud achievement, Shaheen responded, "Absolutely."

"I think making sure that almost 100,000 people in New Hampshire have access to health care is real progress for people in this state," Shaheen said.

Good for her!

COLORADO: Exchange COO joins exodus, new system late

Colorado’s 2.0 “Kentucky-style” system that is supposed to simplify the way people get health insurance won’t be ready until days before the Nov. 15 open enrollment starts.

And as Colorado’s health exchange enters its busy season, a third “chief” has announced she’s leaving Connect for Health Colorado. Chief Executive Patty Fontneau departed in August. Chief Financial Officer Cammie Blais left two weeks ago. And Chief Operating Officer Lindy Hinman announced her resignation and plans to leave next month after open enrollment begins.

VIRGINIA: Funds to help Va. health care coverage signups

Virginia is getting $9.3 million in federal funding to help residents sign up for health insurance.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe said the money will help hire more than 100 people to help with enrollment that runs from Nov. 15 through Feb. 15.

New Hampshire didn't start their ACA Medicaid expansion program until July 1st, and they haven't ramped it up at nearly as impressive a rate as other states like Kentucky, West Virginia or Michigan, but they're doing pretty well with it:

The state has estimated that 50,000 adults are eligible either through the state's managed care program for Medicaid or through a program that subsidizes existing employer coverage. Hassan says 20,035 have signed up since July 1.

Took me awhile to get to this story: Like Michigan, New Hampshire is a late addition to the ACA Medicaid Expansion club, having just started the program on July 1st. The initial number doesn't sound impressive until you realize that only 50,000 people are eligible for it in the state to begin with:

"It makes you happy to be able to offer people something," said Paula Smith, who as a counselor for the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare has had to tell some people that they have too much income for the new federal health-care marketplace.

..."We called her back and told her we could help her now," Smith said.

As of the end of the day Friday, Aug. 8, the state says 9,399 people have signed up for the New Hampshire Health Protection Program since enrollment began July 1. Actual coverage starts this Friday, Aug. 15.

New Hampshire officials have estimated that about 50,000 people the state are eligible for expanded benefits under Medicaid, the federal health program for people with lower incomes.

Don't let the snarky headline fool you; I'm still very much a single-payer guy. However, anyone who still claims that the ACA exchanges are "socialized medicine" doesn't have the slightest clue what they're talking about. In case you needed even more proof that the ACA is very much private-market friendly:

Illinois:

After sitting out the first year, UnitedHealth Group Inc. intends to offer individual policies on the Illinois health insurance exchange next year, according to sources familiar with the company's plans.

The decision by UnitedHealth, the nation's largest and the state's No. 2 insurer, has the potential to shake up the Illinois market, which was dominated in 2014 by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, the state's dominant insurer.

...United's participation also could help lower rates for consumers, a key concern among the law's supporters.

While United would neither confirm nor deny its plans to offer policies in Illinois next year, a spokesman said the Minnesota-based insurer intends to increase its participation over time in exchanges nationwide.

Back when I assumed that I'd be pulling the plug on this website after March 31st, I didn't see the point of keeping track of the states which finally came around and added Medicaid expansion after the end of the Open Enrollment period. Not that I didn't think it was important, mind you; I just assumed that this site would be winding down in early April anyway, so it would be kind of pointless.

However, now that practically every state is extending their enrollment out to April 15 (or beyond, in a couple of cases) for those who started their application before Monday, along with the fact that Medicaid enrollment doesn't have a deadline anyway along with numerous other exceptions, it behooves me to make note of additions to the Expansion party as they come along.

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!

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