2020 OPEN ENROLLMENT ENDS (most states)

Time: D H M S

OE7

Smart idea via the NY State of Health ACA exchange:

Increased Visits to Food Pantries During Holiday Season Provide Opportunity to Reach Uninsured New Yorkers

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 25, 2019) – NY State of Health, the state's official health plan Marketplace, today announced its partnership with food pantries for the third holiday season to educate consumers about enrolling in high quality, affordable health insurance. Food pantries across New York will have certified enrollment assistors on-site throughout November and December to answer questions about health coverage options and how to enroll in a health plan. This year, the Marketplace is also offering eligible New Yorkers the option to receive information on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) during the enrollment process.

Back in late October, a few days before the launch of the 2020 Open Enrollment Period, I issued a warning to ACA exchange enrollees who may have been benefiting from the "Silver Loading" premium pricing strategy for in 2018 and/or 2019 that the enhanced subsidies they've been taking advantage of for two years are likely going to be reversed for 2020:

What happens next year if the benchmark Silver plan drops by 4%...but the Bronze, Gold, and the OTHER Silver plans stay flat?

Over at the Washington Post, reporter Yasmeen Abutaleb has a disturbing-sounding story which immediately caught my eye and raised major internal alarms within the healthcare wonk/advocate community:

Critics say ‘junk plans’ are being pushed on ACA exchanges

The Trump administration has encouraged consumers to use private brokers, who often make more money if they sell the less robust plans.

The Trump administration is encouraging consumers on the Obamacare individual market to seek help from private brokers, who are permitted to sell short-term health plans that critics deride as “junk” because they don’t protect people with preexisting conditions, or cover costly services such as hospital care, in many cases.

So far, this is nothing new; I've been warning people about this since day one...it's the 2nd item on my "Seven Important Things to Remember" blog post from November 1st:

The Week 3 HealthCare.Gov Snapshot Report from CMS should be released later on this afternoon, covering enrollment in 38 states from Nov. 10th - Nov. 16th.

As a reminder, here's what the Week 2 report looked like:

There are two major things to account for when comparing the two years: First, there's a day missing due to Nov. 1st falling on a Friday instead of a Thursday this year. This likely accounts for around half of the 244,000 difference. The other significant difference is that Nevada split off from HC.gov this year, which accounted for around 12,000 of the gap the first 2 weeks.

If you assume around 130,000 of the difference is due to the missing day, that still leaves 2020 Open Enrollment around 100,000 short of the same time period last year on HealthCare.Gov.

Connect for Health Colorado® Reports Coloradans are Shopping Around for 2020 Coverage

DENVER – Nearly 24,000 Coloradans have signed up for a health insurance plan through Connect for Health Colorado’s Marketplace between Nov. 1 and Nov. 15. for coverage starting Jan. 1, 2020.

More Coloradans buying their own health insurance are seeing lower premiums, largely due to the reinsurance program that passed this year. Reinsurance helps insurers with their most costly claims. However, given the complexities of how financial help available through the Marketplace is calculated, current customers should shop around to reduce monthly costs.

Heh. This is a pretty good layman-speak for #ReverseSilverLoading.

On average, those who qualify to automatically renew their plan would lower their premiums by 15 percent (compared to 2019) if they switch to the lowest-cost plan in their current level of coverage.

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:

Qualified Health Plans (QHP):

  • Net Total QHP Enrollment: 96,810
  • 2020 OE Acquisition Summary: 3,947

Overall Volume

via KLAS-TV:

CARSON CITY, Nev. (KLAS) — Nearly 60,500 Nevadans have enrolled in a Qualified Health Plan for plan year 2020 since open enrollment began on Nov. 1.

The Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, which runs online insurance marketplace Nevada Health Link, announced these numbers just 15 days into the enrollment period.

Nevada Health Link migrated 65,563 Nevadans from HealthCare.gov onto the State Based Exchange platform at NevadaHealthLink.com.

“At exactly one-third of the way into open enrollment, we are enthusiastic about the level of engagement we’ve seen from consumers and brokers,” said Heather Korbulic, executive director of Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, in a press release. “While we still have work to do to reach the uninsured populations throughout our state, we remain optimistic that we will see enrollment numbers continue to rise throughout the duration of this enrollment period.”

The agency says this is the first year Nevada Health Link will no longer rely on HealthCare.gov after the transition began in 2018.

Arrrrgh! Don't ask me why, but for some reason I forget about this weird policy of NY State of Health every year:

Press Release: NY State of Health Announces Annual Renewal Begins Saturday

  • 500,000 New York State Households Expected to Renew Their Health Plan for the 2020 Plan Year
  • Consumers Must Enroll or Renew by December 15 for Coverage Effective January 1

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 14, 2019) - NY State of Health, the state’s official health plan Marketplace, today announced that beginning November 16, the Marketplace will be open for individuals looking to renew or change their health plan for 2020. Open Enrollment for new customers seeking to enroll in a Qualified Health Plan began November 1 and runs through January 31, 2020.  New Yorkers must enroll by December 15 for coverage beginning January 1, 2020.

Press release from the DC Health Link website:

Mayor Bowser Encourages DC Residents to Get Covered During 2020 Open Enrollment Period

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Residents Must Enroll at DCHealthLink.com by December 15 for Coverage to Start January 1 

(Washington, DC­­) – Mayor Muriel Bowser is encouraging DC residents to sign-up for high-quality, affordable health insurance at DCHealthLink.com, the District’s online state-based health insurance marketplace established under the Affordable Care Act. Open enrollment for District residents runs through January 31, 2020. For coverage to be effective January 1, 2020, residents must enroll by December 15.

“If you are a District resident in need of health insurance, there is no better time to find an affordable, high-quality plan,” said Mayor Bowser. “We are proud that the District has been able to build on the Affordable Care Act and ensure every family has access to health insurance and the peace of mind that coverage provides.”

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.

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