OE7

Normally I write two separate annual premium rate change filing entries for each state: One when the preliminary/requested rate filings are submitted, and another one when the final/approved rates are published.

In the case of California, it turns out that the rate rview/negotiation process is...more complicated. The press release/report released by Covered California back in July referred to preliminary 2020 premiums only, but it turns out that Covered California exchange personnel had already completed all their negotiations before posting any numbers.

It also turns out (thanks to "Dena M." aka @HealthEDena) that in California, insurance policy premiums are not reviewed/approved by the state insurance department...but by an entirely different department called the Dept. of Managed Health Care, or DMHC.

Back in early July, the Indiana Insurance Dept. posted the preliminary requested 2020 rate increases for the carriers participating in the ACA-compliant individual market. Technically there's three carriers there (CareSource Indiana, Celtic/Ambetter and Anthem), though Anthem only has 4 (yes, four) people enrolled in off-exchange policies total.

At the time, the IN DOI stated that the requested rates came in at an average premium increase of 9%:

INDIANA 2020 ACA FILINGS

The overall average rate increase for 2020 Indiana individual marketplace plans is 9.0%. CareSource and Celtic (MHS/Ambetter) have filed to participate in the 2020 Indiana Individual Marketplace. The Department of Insurance anticipates that all 92 counties in Indiana will be covered by both CareSource and Celtic (MHS/Ambetter).

Anthem has filed to offer a 2020 Off-Marketplace plan in Indiana. This plan is a catastrophic plan and is offered only in Benton, Jasper, Newton, Warren and White Counties.

*(Yes, I know, the District of Columbia isn't actually a state, and Vermont's mandate is...well, read on...)

As the 2020 Open Enrollment Period rapidly approaches (it starts November 1st nationwide...except for California, where open enrollment is starting on October 15th), it's time to start getting the word out about some important things to keep in mind this fall.

One of the most critical things to remember for residents of California, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont is that each of these states* has reinstated an individual healthcare coverage mandate law/ordinance to replace the federal ACA mandate penalty which was zeroed out by Congressional Republicans back in December 2017. This means that if you live one one of them, unless you receive an affordability, hardship or other type of acceptable exemption, you'll be charged a financial penalty when you file your state/district taxes for 2020 in spring 2021 if you don't have qualifying healthcare coverage.

In early August, the Nevada Dept. of Insurance posted the state's preliminary 2020 individual market rate changes. The data was a bit incomplete and confusing, but the bottom line is that average unsubsidized 2020 premiums were only expected to increase about 1.0%.

Today they posted the final/approved rate changes, and unlike most states, the overall weighted average will be slightly higher than the original numbers...although only by a hair:

Nevada Division of Insurance reveals approved 2020 Health Insurance Rates

Carson City, NV – The Division of Insurance (‘Division”) has posted the approved 2020 health insurance rates for all plans in the Individual Health Insurance Market at healthrates.doi.nv.gov and encourages consumers to review this information before the Open Enrollment Period begins.

Not much to see here...in August, the Idaho Insurance Dept. posted their preliminary 2020 average rate changes for the individual & small group markets; they averaged 7.0% and 4.0% increases respectively. Today they've posted the final/approved rates, and the indy numbers have been whittled down ever so slightly:

Back in July, I noted that the Minnesota Commerce Department announced the preliminary 2020 rate changes for carriers on the individual and small group markets. At the time, the weighted average increases were roughly 1.6% and 5.5% respectively, although the enrollment estimates for each carrier were estimates only.

Today, the MN Commerce Dept. announced the approved rates for 2020, and in both markets, they shaved average premiums down a couple of points. Here's the actual Commerce Dept. press release:

Commerce releases 2020 health insurance rates for Minnesota

Minnesota’s individual and small group health insurance market rates for 2020 reflect stabilized markets, according to information released today by the Minnesota Department of Commerce in advance of the open enrollment period beginning November 1.

HealthCare.gov incorrectly sent out open enrollment notices

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — In a statement issued by Nevada Health Link, the organization announced that it had become aware that the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace, known as HealthCare.gov had incorrectly sent notices to Nevada consumers regarding the upcoming open enrollment period.

The incorrect notices were sent to Nevada consumers via mail, email and through notices on the HealthCare.gov portal.

"These notices from the Marketplace were sent in error. Nevadans who received these notices from the Marketplace should be aware that NevadaHealthLink.com is the only place to get enrolled in a qualified health plan during the next open enrollment period beginning on November 1, 2019," said Heather Korbulic, Executive Director for the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange.

Nevada consumers are asked to reach out to the Nevada Health Link consumer assistance center for further questions by calling 1-800-547-2927.

Not much to add here.

The Arkansas Insurance Dept. just posted their approved 2020 individual and small group market premium rate change requests. For the most part it's pretty straightforward: Individual market premiums are increasing about 2.3% statewide, while small group plans are going up 6.2% overall. This is virtually unchanged from their preliminary rate requests in July, although a single small group carrier had their request reduced from +2% to -0.1%, lowering the overall weighted average by a mere 0.2 points:

Regular readers may have noticed that this is my first blog entry in several days, which is unusual for me. I admit I've been mesmerized by the dramatic Trump/Ukraine/Impeachment saga which has exploded over the past few days.

I'm back in gear today, however, and I'm starting things off with my latest freelance piece over at healthinsurance.org. It's basically a summary explainer of where things stand re. 2020 ACA individual market premiums. As anyone who follows this site knows, the answer this year is basically...FLAT, at least nationally.

The irony of this, of course, is that the 800 pound gorilla in the room is the pending #TexasFoldEm lawsuit decision by the 5th U.S. Court of Appeals, which could potentially tear down the entire Affordable Care Act...and their decision in the case is expected to be released any time over the next five weeks...just ahead of the 2020 Open Enrollment Period.

Long-time readers may have noticed that, while I've obviously ripped on the Trump Administration a lot for the various ways they've screwed around with administration of the ACA over the past 2 1/2 years, there's a handful of actions they've taken which I haven't criticized them for...or at least, which I've been fairly circumstpect about being too critical about.

The biggest, and perhaps most surprising, of the latter is the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) decision to shorten the offiical Open Enrollment Period (OEP) roughly in half, from three months (Nov. 1st - Jan. 31st) down to just six weeks (Nov. 1st - Dec. 15th). There's a couple of reasons for this.

First and foremost...the Obama Administration was already planning on shortening the period...it's just that they intended to make the change starting in 2018 instead of 2017. This is from February 2016, long before Trump even secured the GOP nomination:

Back in mid-June, the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority posted the preliminary, requested average unsubsidized 2020 premium changes for the Individual and Small Group markets:

Overall individual rates increased an average of 9.0 percent and small group rates increased an average of 10.5 percent. In the individual market, CareFirst proposed an average increase of 7.7 percent for HMO plans, and 15.6 percent for PPO plans. Kaiser proposed an average increase of 5.0 percent. For small group plans, CareFirst filed average rate increases of 13.5 percent for HMO plans and 18.5 percent for the PPO plans. Kaiser small group rates proposed an average increase of 3.0 percent. Aetna filed for an average increase of 16.1 percent for HMO plans and 5.0 percent for PPO plans. Finally, United proposed an average increase of 13.0 percent and 7.4 percent for its two HMOs and 11.2 percent for its PPO plans.

This is what it looked like at the time:

via Becker's Hospital Review:

Cigna extended its individual healthcare exchange products for the 2020 plan year, the insurer said Sept. 18.

For 2020, individuals can purchase individual health plans in 19 markets across 10 states. The expansions will take place in counties in Kansas, South Florida, Utah, Tennessee and Virginia. The other states include Arizona, Colorado, Illinois and North Carolina.

The plans will be available for purchase on the individual marketplace during the 2020 open enrollment period, which begins Nov. 1. Plans will take effect Jan. 1.

via Bruce Japsen of Forbes:

DISCLAIMER: ACASignups.net has a long-term paid banner ad arrangement with The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

I spent most of the past month knee-deep in combing through the Medical Loss Ratio rebate filings of thousands of health insurance carriers. Now, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has made it much easier to keep track of which of those carriers are participating in the ACA individual market:

Interactive tracker helps tell the story of insurer participation in the ACA market.

The seventh open enrollment season is almost upon us, and all signs point to growing stability, as measured by moderate premium increases and increased participation by health plans. The tracker shows the change over time in participation at the county level, and allows users to follow individual companies or categories of health insurers. The data reveal a business narrative that has been closely intertwined with the political story of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace.

One of the interesting quirks of how the Affordable Care Act's enhancement of our crazy patchwork heatlhcare system works is that there's something of a zero-sum game when it comes to enrollment numbers.

For instance, Virginia's ACA exchange enrollment numbers dropped by 18% this year, from 400,000 to 328,000, due primarily to the state finally getting around to expanding Medicaid to enrollees earning less than 138% of the Federal Poverty Level. Since people earning between 100-400% FPL are eligible for ACA subsidies if they enroll through the exchange, that means there's an overlap for those in the 100-138% range which these folks fell into. The same thing happened in Louisiana, even more dramatically, after they expanded Medicaid halfway through 2016...the following year exchange enrollment dropped by 33%.

Last month I noted that North Dakota had posted their requested 2020 premium rate change requests, including two different filings: One assuming the states' ACA Section 1332 Reinsurance Waiver didn't get approved, the other assuming it did. It was pretty unlikely that their waiver would be denied, however, so the general assumption was that they'd be looking at a significant rate reduction, especially compared with the rate increase if the waiver didn't go through.

At the time, I didn't have access to the actual enrollment figures for the three carriers on North Dakota's individual market, so I had to go with an unweighted average rate change, and came up with a drop of 7.9%.

Since then, however, the state regulators have reviewed and approved the 2020 premium changes, and thanks to Louise Norris, I don't even have to dig up the enrollment data:

Average rates dropping by nearly 6% in 2020 (without reinsurance, they’d have increased by nearly 15%)

Pages