OE7

Starting today, November 1st, the Seventh Annual ACA Open Enrollment Period is upon us! As I do every year, here's a list of important things to remember when selecting a health insurance policy. Some of these are the same every year and apply nationwide; others are specific to the 2020 enrollment period and/or to particular states.

1. DON'T MISS THE DEADLINE!

California actually launched Open Enrollment for 2020 on October 15th, but for the other 49 states (+DC) it starts on November 1st. The deadline for Open Enrollment is December 15th in most states for coverage starting January 1st, 2020, but eight states which operate their own ACA exchanges have extended deadlines:

Last year, Minnesota's ACA exchange, MNsure, reported the following QHP selections numbers for the first two weeks of Open Enrollment (technically the first 13 days):

BY THE NUMBERS—

  • Private health plan sign ups—97,944
  • Call volume—14,335
  • Average speed of answer—7 seconds
  • Plan comparison sessions—49,064

The sign-ups reported include new consumers, renewing consumers who have come back and shopped for a new plan for 2019, and renewing consumers who are continuing their previous plan for 2019.

Of those, around 2,400 were new enrollees; the other 95.5K were renewals of existing enrollees (either active or auto-renewals).

For 2020, this just came in from MNsure:

Strong Interest During MNsure's First 10 days; Open Enrollment Update = November 13, 2019

This Just In from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid...

Federal Health Insurance Exchange Weekly Enrollment Snapshot: Week 2: Week 2, Nov 3-9, 2019

In week two of the 2020 Open Enrollment, 754,967 people selected plans using the HealthCare.gov platform. As in past years, enrollment weeks are measured Sunday through Saturday. Consequently, the cumulative totals reported in this snapshot reflect one fewer day than last year.

Every week during Open Enrollment, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will release enrollment snapshots for the HealthCare.gov platform, which is used by the Federally-facilitated Exchange and some State-based Exchanges. These snapshots provide point-in-time estimates of weekly plan selections, call center activity, and visits to HealthCare.gov or CuidadoDeSalud.gov.

The final number of plan selections associated with enrollment activity during a reporting period may change due to plan modifications or cancellations. In addition, the weekly snapshot only reports new plan selections and active plan renewals and does not report the number of consumers who have paid premiums to effectuate their enrollment.

OK, this is a bit confusing. Over the past few years, more and more of the state-based exchanges have shifted from waiting until the end of Open Enrollment to officially report auto-renewals of existing enrollees...to going ahead and auto-renewing everyone up front, and then subtracting those current enrollees who actively cancel their renewals.

This has caused a bit of confusion, since the exchanges don't always make it clear who's being counted and when.

Case in point: Access Health CT, Connecticut's ACA exchange. Last year they reported 12,777 enrollees during the first two weeks of Open Enrollment...and also noted that there were another 85,000 existing enrollees who hadn't yet actively renewed their policies as of 11/18.

This year, their press release page states the following:

2020 Open Enrollment Results (Stats will be available starting Friday November 8, 2019 by 5pm EST)

Qualified Health Plans (QHP):

This was posted by NJ Governor Phil Murphy a week ago but it's still noteworthy, especially considering that NJ is in the process of splitting off from HC.gov onto their own full ACA exchange next year as Nevada just did:

Governor Murphy and New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance Kick Off ACA Open Enrollment Period

Governor Announces Strengthened ACA Efforts, including $3.1 Million to Support Outreach and Enrollment Efforts and Bolstered Get Covered NJ Awareness Campaign

TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy, joined by Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI) Commissioner Marlene Caride and enrollment assisters from across the state, today announced Navigator grant awards totaling $1.1 million to provide enrollment assistance to residents shopping for health coverage during the six-week open enrollment window. DOBI plans to release approximately $500,000 more in grants in the coming days.

This just in via MNsure (Minesota's ACA exchange):

MNsure update on first week of open enrollment

ST. PAUL—MNsure CEO Nate Clark issued the following statement recapping the first full week of open enrollment:

“MNsure has seen strong and steady interest during the first week of open enrollment. Minnesotans have six weeks left to sign up for their 2020 coverage. Remember, MNsure is the only place Minnesotans can get access to tax credits that could lower premium costs. We’ve also got a statewide network of assisters who offer free, in-person help so consumers can be sure they’re finding the health care plan that meets their needs.”

Open enrollment figures will be released next Wednesday (11/13) at MNsure’s public board meeting at 1 p.m.

By the numbers: As of end of day, November 7

*("Week One" is a misnomer...see highlighted explanation below)

This Just In from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid...

Federal Health Insurance Exchange Weekly Enrollment Snapshot: Week 1

Week 1, November 1-November 2, 2019

In week one of the 2020 Open Enrollment, 177,082 people selected plans using the HealthCare.gov platform. As in past years, enrollment weeks are measured Sunday through Saturday. Consequently, week one was only two days long this year - from Friday to Saturday.

Every week during Open Enrollment, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will release enrollment snapshots for the HealthCare.gov platform, which is used by the Federally-facilitated Exchange and some State-based Exchanges. These snapshots provide point-in-time estimates of weekly plan selections, call center activity, and visits to HealthCare.gov or CuidadoDeSalud.gov.

The original purpose of this website was, of course, to do real-time (or close to real-time) tracking of how many people actually select Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) via the ACA exchanges.

Every year I start out with a "blank" with my projections for how I think the upcoming Open Enrollment Period (OEP) will play out. For 2020, however, I'm just overlaying 2019's enrollment patterns on the graph (for both the federal and state exchanges) to see how things play out year over year.

There's some important things to keep in mind for the 2020 OEP:

 

I'm very pleased to see this.

I've made quite a bit of fuss about California expanding availability of ACA financial subsidies to those earning 400 - 600% of the Federal Poverty Line ($75K for a single person, $154K for a family of four). The subsidies aren't massive for most people, but for hundreds of thousands of Californians--especially older folks earning between 400 - 450% FPL--this is a huge savings. In addition, they're sweetening the subsidies somewhat for those already receiving ACA tax credits.

The only real concern I had about this is whether enough people in California know about it. Just like with reinstating the mandate penalty (which California has also done this year), expanding & enhancing ACA subsidies isn't gonna cause a spike in enrollment if no one knows they're available. A lot of people who might have checked into it in prior years isn't likely to bother taking another look if they don't know that the income cut-off threshold has gone up, and many others have never bothered trying in the first place because they "heard somewhere" that they won't qualify.

This press release came out last week but I covered all the other state-based exchange Open Enrollment press releases so I figured I should include this one as well:

Covered California for Small Business Announces Expanded Choices and an Average Rate Change of 4.1 Percent for 2020

via the Washington Healthplanfinder:

Washington Healthplanfinder Ready for Start of 2020 Open Enrollment

  • More health plans, new health insurance carriers, and lower premiums available in most counties

Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) announced today the start of the 2020 open enrollment period that will feature more plan options and the potential for lower premiums for the majority of customers.

Now through December 15, Washingtonians seeking health insurance plans for themselves and their families can visit Washington Healthplanfinder to review and enroll in coverage. This year customers will find a total of 66 qualified health plans (QHP) from nine insurance providers – a 65 percent increase in QHPs from the 40 plans available last year. And, for the first time ever, a bronze plan offering will be available in every county in the state.

via HealthSource RI:

Need health insurance in 2020? Now’s the time to pick or renew your plan

HealthSource RI announces 2020 Open Enrollment period Nov. 1st – Dec 31st

EAST PROVIDENCE, RI (October 31, 2019) HealthSource RI, the state health insurance exchange, helps connect Rhode Islanders to a wide range of high quality, affordable health coverage options. Residents are encouraged to select and pay for a plan through HealthSource RI by December 23rd for coverage beginning January 1, 2020. The last possible day to enroll and pay for a plan is December 31st, but customers may experience a delay in receiving ID cards if they enroll after December 23rd.

“HealthSource RI helps keep health care costs low while ensuring that Rhode Islanders have access to high-quality care,” said Governor Raimondo. “I urge Rhode Islanders to take time to explore HealthSource RI’s many coverage options this open enrollment.”

via NY State of Health:

Press Release: Governor Cuomo Announces the Start of NY State Of Health's 2020 Open Enrollment Period

  • New York's Uninsured Rate Continues to Decline, Among Lowest in the Nation
  • More than 4.8 Million New Yorkers Have Enrolled Through NY State of Health

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that on November 1, NY State of Health - New York State's Health Plan Marketplace and a national leader in enrolling people into quality, affordable health coverage - will begin its seventh annual open enrollment period for New Yorkers who want quality, low-cost health insurance coverage in 2020.

via the ALL-NEW Nevada Health Link:

Nov. 1 kicks off the Plan Year 2020 Open Enrollment Period. By now, we hope you’ve had a chance to explore the new website, and if you’re a returning customer, you’ve probably already claimed your account. Still have questions? No worries. We’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) to make shopping for a qualified health plan through Nevada Health Link as seamless as possible.

What is Nevada Health Link?

Run by the state agency: Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, Nevada Health Link is Nevada’s online marketplace where eligible Nevadans can shop for, compare and purchase Affordable Care Act-compliant health insurance plans that fit their needs and budget.  Check out our video.

I’m a returning Nevada Health Link customer. What do I need to do to get ready for Plan Year 2020 Open Enrollment?

via Connect for Health Colorado:

Open Enrollment for 2020 Coverage Brings Savings for Coloradans Who Actively Shop

DENVER – The Open Enrollment period to purchase health insurance for 2020 kicks off Friday, Nov. 1, with rates lower across the board for the first time since the Marketplace opened for business in 2013. And while rates are lower, Connect for Health Colorado strongly encourages all customers to compare their plan options before making a selection.

With the complexities of how the tax credit is calculated, customers who qualify for financial help will likely see a decrease in the dollar amount of assistance. It’s important to know that customers who qualify for financial help can reduce premiums an average of eight to 19 percent by switching to the lowest-cost plan available in their current coverage level. 

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