Nice find by Esther F. The main focus of the story is that a 5th insurance company has decided to join 4 others on New Mexico's ACA exchange, which is of course good news for competition, the free market and so forth...
The newest insurer is CHRISTUS Health Plan of Texas, Franchini said during a meeting of the NMHIX board in Santa Fe.
“CHRISTUS is a nonprofit and they will be on the exchange. They will be the fifth carrier on the exchange,” Franchini said.
CHRISTUS will join New Mexico Health Connections, Presbyterian Health Plan, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico and Molina Healthcare of New Mexico as the firms that will sell in the individual exchange.
...however, Esther notes a potentially far more significant section of the story farther down. The backstory is this: New Mexico has been planning on running their own exchange for the 2nd year of open enrollment, but has more recently been having second thoughts given the various technical issues faced by some of the other state exchanges. Therefore...
Some good news (relatively speaking) on the Massachusetts front: As you'll recall, the state which inspired the ACA (ironically due to the program being spearheaded by then-Governor Mitt Romney), and which has been operating under their state-level version of the law smoothly for some years now, had an incredibly embarrassing misfire with their ACA-specific exchange website. After hobbling through the first enrollment period (and leaving over 200,000 residents in healthcare limbo as a result), it was determined that the existing site was such a mess that they had two choices: Either replace the existing software with an entirely new system, or drop the whole thing and move over to the Federal exchange as Oregon is doing.
Instead, Massachusetts decided to hedge their bets and pursue both: They've been working with a new vendor to rebuild their own exchange from scratch, while simultaneously arranging for a quick move to HC.gov just in case Plan A doesn't work out.
The good news is that so far, anyway, the new platform seems to be working out in early testing, though it's way too early to be sure of anything:
An estimated 220,000 New Mexicans are eligible for expanded Medicaid benefits, and 121,000 of them signed up for the newly available coverage. Many of them found their way to Medicaid by visiting the insurance exchanges online, by talking with guides, or at enrollment events designed to encourage use of the exchange.
As I noted yesterday, there are three states which had unusually large discrepancies between the official HHS and state exchange QHP enrollments:
New York came in over 65,000 lower than the number I had for a simple reason: The New York exchange lumps enrollees in their Child Health Plus program in with QHPs, even though technically this isn't a QHP program. There were over 40,000 of these as of the end of February; this number has climbed to 65,028 as of 4/19.
Since Child Health Plus is privately funded (and therefore isn't on the Medicaid/CHIP side), but also isn't officially a QHP either according to HHS, I've moved it over to the "Off Exchange QHP" column.
Impressive numbers from New Mexico during the extension period:
Nearly 35,000 New Mexicans had enrolled in health plans through the state and federal insurance exchanges as of April 15, a 32 percent increase from the end of March, the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange said Friday.
As of March 31, 24,412 residents had enrolled through the exchanges, and as of April 15, that number had climbed to 34,966, as 8,554 residents took advantage of the extended enrollment period, NMHIX said.
Nothing major, just another 4,000 people added to NM's Medicaid tally:
An estimated 107,000 New Mexicans have enrolled in Medicaid since the state expanded the qualifications in October to include low-income adults, state Human Services Department spokesman Matt Kennicott said Monday.
...A total of 26,412 New Mexicans had enrolled in health plans through the state insurance exchange by the March 31 enrollment deadline, the state office of the Superintendent of Insurance said in a news release issued recently.
...An additional 10,000 applications had been submitted by the deadline but remained unprocessed, the statement said.
The New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange (NMHIX) reported a total of 26,412 New Mexicans had enrolled in qualified health plans as of March 31, 2014, according to the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance. This figure represents a 76 percent growth rate from the 15,012 enrollments confirmed at the end of February 2014.
In addition, as noted this morning, NM reports 11K OFF-exchange individual QHPs and another 13,500 off-exchange SHOP QHPs! The 11K are part of the alleged "9M" RAND QHPs, not sure how to handle the 13.5K SHOP QHPs, not that it makes much of a difference vs. 9M...
Hmmmmm...not sure what to make of this update out of KUNM in New Mexico. NM only had 18,691 exchange QHPs as of 3/15, so 51.4K would be absolutely insane (a 2.75x increase). It looks like they've mixed the SHOP enrollees into the mix, which means it's not quite that crazy--take those out and the QHPs are down to 37,400, or a "mere" doubling of the existing total. So...I guess that makes sense.
HOWEVER, this causes bigger questions, because the only data I've had for New Mexico's SHOP exchange was a mere 524 as of March 18th. How the hell did they manage to enroll 28 times as many people in the next 13 days???
The number is given in a negative context, but NM is up to 18,691 from 15,012 as of March 1st...263/day, up nearly 2.2x from February's 121/day:
As of March 15, 18,691 New Mexico residents had enrolled in the exchange, Ezekiel said. After already adjusting enrollment expectations for 2014 downward from 83,000 to 50,000 because of problems with the federalhealthcare.gov portal, the state is struggling to reach its target.
This is a much bigger deal than it might appear to be. The title is a bit misleading; NM's Medicaid tally hasn't suddenly shot up 10x overnight, it's just that until now, I've only had New Mexico's ACA-enabled expansion number pegged at around 14,400 (10,300 Strict Expansion, 4,100 Woodworkers) because NM mixes together new enrollees with renewals (redeterminations) when they report the data to CMS. This means I couldn't use any of the CMS data (witness the red bar on the NM section of the Medicaid spreadsheet).
Today, I can replace both numbers with this one; the article is pretty damned clear that all 103K are specifically due to the expansion provision alone, but I'm willing to concede that perhaps 10% of it might be "woodworkers". Thereferore, "woodworkers" goes up to 10,300 while "strict expansion" increases to 92,700:
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.
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!
OK, looks like I misunderstood the wording of the prior update; while 422 is actually a slight increase, I thought that the prior 395 didn't include dependents; apparently it did. Therefore, the tally actually drops from 711 down to 422. Sorry about the error.
As of Feb. 2, 4,319 employees are in the system, but only 273 have enrolled in health plans. Combined with their dependents, a total of 422 people have selected health plans on the SHOP exchange.
The first number is only slightly higher than last week, but at the time I didn't know if that referred to employees only or their families as well. This article is more specific, so using Covered California's very conservative 1.8x factor for dependents, the actual number of people covered by the SHOP exchange comes to about 711.
As of Jan. 28, 1,612 New Mexico employers had signed up to buy insurance on the SHOP for their employees. A total of 395 employees and their dependents have selected plans on the SHOP.
In addition, as the submitter noted, the numbers aren't huge but the 1,612 employers signing up is extremely promising.