North Dakota

Normally I post screenshots from the revised/updated SERFF filings and/or updates at RateReview.HealthCare.Gov, but it takes forever and I think I've more than established my credibility on this sort of thing, so forgive me for not doing so here. Besides, #OE4 is approaching so rapidly now that this entire project will become moot soon enough, as people start actually shopping around and finding out just what their premium changes will be for 2017.

The other reason I'm not too concerned about documenting the latest batch of updates/additional data is because in the end none of it is making much of a difference to the larger national average anyway; no matter how the individual carrier rates jump around in various states, the overall, national weighted average still seems to hover right around the 25% level.

Still, for the record, here's the latest...in four states (Iowa, Indiana, Maine & Tennessee) I've just updated the requested and/or approved average increases. In the other four (Massachusetts, Montana, North & South Dakota) I've added the approved rate hikes as well.

North Dakota's total individual market was 49,000 people in 2014. Assuming a 25% increase since then, it should be roughly 61,000 today, some portion of which is composed of transitional/grandfathered enrollees. I'm going to assume (based on hard numbers from a few other states) that GF/TR enrollees make up perhaps 10% of the total, or 6,100. They enrolled 21,604 people in exchange plans this year, of whom 20,536 were still enrolled as of the end of March. Last year, Blue Cross Blue Shield of ND held roughly 29,000 enrollees total, with Medica making up another 4,800 or so.

All of the above numbers are important when attempting to estimate the weighted average rate hikes requested by ND carriers, because of the 3 operating on the individual market (BCBS, Medica and Sanford), only one of them, Medica, has provided their actual 2016 enrollment tally (7,329).

As I just noted re. South Carolina, Louise Norris has picked up the ball on my "weighted average rate hike" project and seems to be filling in some of the missing pieces using my own methodology. Here's what she comes up with for North Dakota:

Rates for 2016 won’t be finalized until late summer or early fall, but of the three carriers that participated in the exchange in 2015, two – Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota and Medica Health Plans – have requested double digit rate increases for 2016. BCBS of ND has proposed an average rate increase of 18.4 percent for their 29,000 individual market policy-holders (including on and off exchange plans) BCBS of ND has 70 percent of the on-exchange market share in 2015.

Medica has proposed an average rate increase of 16.5 percent, for an estimated 4,778 members, including on and off-exchange.

Sanford’s proposed rate increases were less than 10 percent, as they do not appear on Healthcare.gov’s rate review tool.

Thanks to Paul Mullen for this find: A rare update out of North Dakota. Lots of useful data, but kind of frustrating because of the apples/oranges comparisons:

As of July 6, 9,953 North Dakota residents were covered by private insurance plans obtained through the federal marketplace, up from 8,374 reported at the committee’s last meeting May 14, according to Insurance Department figures.

That’s still lower than the 10,597 enrollment figure cited by the Obama administration in April, in part because the state counts only those who have actually paid their first month’s premium. Either way, enrollment fell short of the administration’s projection that 11,000 North Dakotans would enroll in private plans through the marketplace during its first six months.

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!

The good news is that North Dakota's Medicaid tally has gone up from 1,700 as of early January to over 4,000 at the beginning of February. The bad news is that due to an oversight on my part, this is actually a drop from what I had entered in that field (a confusingly-worded article in January led me to confuse enrollees with the potential pool, which was considerably higher). Anyway, ND Medicaid stood at 4,071 as of a month ago.

As of Feb. 1, 4,057 people in North Dakota had selected an insurance plan through the marketplace. That’s up from 2,624 who chose a plan in the final three months of 2013. Another 4,071 here have been determined to be eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Right after last night's South Dakota update we have their sister state to the North. ND was at just 265 private enrollments as of 11/30, so this represents a four-fold increase as of January 7. I've subtracted 800 from the "unspecified" pool at the bottom of the spreadsheet to compensate.

Meanwhile, their Medicaid expansion has gone from 1,001 up to around 1,700.

As of the first week of January, when coverage started through plans under the Affordable Care Act, 977 members had signed up with Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota, the state’s dominant insurer.

The Sanford Health Plan enrolled 92 in North Dakota through the new marketplace exchange.

By contrast, enrollment in North Dakota under expanded Medicaid eligibility stands at about 1,700 in the first week of January....

In North Dakota, estimates of new Medicaid enrollees under the expanded eligibility have ranged from an increase of 20,000 to 32,000.