START OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD

Time: D H M S

Oregon

I've ranted several times before about the importance of current Obamacare private policy enrollees making sure to actually visit the exchange website, shop aroundlog into your account and manually re-enroll for 2015, even if nothing has changed at your end (ie, no changes in income, dependents, residence etc).

There are many reasons NOT to auto-renew, most of which are financial in nature. The short version is, you could easily end up paying more than you thought next year by not switching (in addition to premium changes, your tax credit might drop even if your income hasn't changed due to how it's calculated), and you could pay substantially less next year if you do switch to another policy (premiums are actually dropping in many markets).

OK, that was unexpected. After a solid month without any updates, last week CoverOregon, being dismantled even as we speak as the state makes the move to HC.gov for #OE2 (Open Enrollment Period 2) suddenly issued a new update. I figured it was their last hurrah before going silent, but it seems they've decided to put out one (or possibly 2?) more updates before going to the Great Beyond:

November 3, 2014
Update: Private coverage and Oregon Health Plan enrollment through Cover Oregon

Medical enrollments through Cover Oregon: 420,450
Total private medical insurance enrollments through Cover Oregon: 105,661

Oregon Health Plan enrollments through Cover Oregon: 314,789
 

Dental enrollments 
Total private dental insurance enrollments through CoverOregon 1: 20,893

Net enrollments 
Net private medical: 77,288
Net private dental: 13,782

Compared to last week, that's another 606 total QHPs added, plus an additional 3,788 added to the Medicaid tally.

In spite of their ugly technical problems, Cover Oregon was surprisingly consistent and reliable with their off-season enrollment updates, issuing them about once a week throughout the entire spring and summer. This came to a halt on September 29th, however; they didn't issue any updates at all throughout all of October. I assumed that this was because they were too busy shutting down the state exchange and moving everything over to Healthcare.Gov for the 2nd Open Enrollment period, and I'm sure they are. However, tonight I was pleasantly surprised to see that they have issued one more update after all, taking things all the way through...today:

October 28, 2014
Update: Private coverage and Oregon Health Plan enrollment through Cover Oregon

Medical enrollments through Cover Oregon: 416,056
Total private medical insurance enrollments through Cover Oregon: 105,055

Oregon Health Plan enrollments through Cover Oregon: 311,001
 

VERMONT: Federal Law Raises Questions About Who Can Bid For IT Projects That Support The Exchange

A provision of the Affordable Care Act precluding health insurers or companies in the “same controlled group of corporations” as a health insurer from holding exchange contracts raises questions about Optum working on Vermont Health Connect.

Concerns regarding Optum were raised at the federal level by Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking members of the Finance and Judiciary committees respectively.

IDAHO: Your Health Idaho to launch sign-up system

Basically just an overview of the new Idaho ACA exchange; ID is the only state moving from HC.gov to their own website for the 2nd year, giving them a unique perspective. Most interesting to me is that they're spinning the "autonomy/states-rights" angle, which was the whole reason for pushing states to set up their own exchanges in the first place:

An Open Letter to Mitch McConnell:

McConnell says that he supports Kynect because it is just a website.... #kysen

— Joe Sonka (@joesonka) October 14, 2014

Dear Senator McConnell:

In addition to running ACASignups.net, I also happen to be a website developer by trade. I founded my website development company 15 years ago, which makes me an old man in the industry.

Given both of these capacities, I think I'm in a pretty good position to judge what's "just a website" and what isn't.

The kynect "just a website" wouldn't exist without Barack "Yeah, He's Black And He's The President Of The United States, It's Been 5 1/2 Years So Get Over It Already" Obama and the Democratic Party.

Oregon: Most ACA exchange enrollees previously uninsured, most consider themselves healthy:

Those are two of the findings of a survey released today by the Center for Outcomes Research & Education at Providence Health Services. The goals were to understand who enrolled, assess their connection to care before and after enrollment and to understand their health. At the time of the study, 76,569 Oregonians had signed up through open enrollment.

With Open Enrollment 2.0 coming up fast, here's some quick hits from the various state-run ACA exchanges:

Massachusetts: State vows easier time on rebuilt Mass. Health Connector site

When people shop online for health insurance through the Massachusetts Health Connector next month, they will have a radically different experience than the trouble they encountered last year, state officials promised Thursday.

Last year’s website, redesigned to meet the terms of the Affordable Care Act, never worked properly, leaving people unable to buy subsidized health insurance. This year, officials say, the newly rebuilt website will enable users to cruise smoothly from log-in to plan choice.

Vermont: Thousands directed to shut-down health exchange website to pay bills

Thousands of Vermont Health Connect customers who signed up to pay health care premiums online recently received email notices directing them to pay through a website that is offline.

Still no Medicaid update since 8/13, but Oregon's total QHP figure is up another 687 since 9/22, while NET QHPs are down 696, giving an overall attrition rate since the peak in mid-July of around 2.3% per month. Note that the net current enrollment figure is still 14% higher than the last official HHS report tally of 68,308:

September 29, 2014
Update: Private coverage and Oregon Health Plan enrollment through Cover Oregon

Medical enrollments through Cover Oregon: 354,958
Total private medical insurance enrollments through Cover Oregon: 102,596

Oregon Health Plan enrollments through Cover Oregon: 252,362*

*OHP enrollment data is current as of August 13, 2014. An updated number will be posted soon.

Net private medical: 77,920

Pretty minor Oregon update today, with no Medicaid update and total QHPs up around 800; the main significance is that the net QHP enrollment, having gradually dropped every week since around mid-July, has leveled off at 78,616 for the past 2 weeks:

Medical enrollments through Cover Oregon: 354,291
Total private medical insurance enrollments through Cover Oregon: 101,909

Oregon Health Plan enrollments through Cover Oregon: 252,362*

*OHP enrollment data is current as of August 13, 2014. An updated number will be posted soon.

Dental enrollments 
Total private dental insurance enrollments through CoverOregon 1: 20,686

Net enrollments 
Net private medical: 78,616
Net private dental: 14,195

This means that Oregon's net attrition rate since July 14, which I had down as 2.5% per month, is now down to just 2.1% monthly.

As I've stated many, many times before: In spite of their $300 million disaster of a website failing to enroll a single person, Oregon has still managed to rack up one of the most impressive enrollment tallies in the entire country relative to their population, with a grand total of over 481,000 people added between QHPs, Medicaid and CHIP (in addition to the 353,000 noted at the link, OR added another 128K to Medicaid via their "fast track" program which they don't list here for whatever reasons).

For a state with only 3.9 million people, that's bound to have an impressive impact on the uninsured rate...and sure enough...

I'm about to show you a chart which demonstrates several noteworthy things about QHP enrollment in Oregon (which, in spite of the terrible technical problems their site has had, has managed to enroll a similar ratio of their uninsured residents in private policies (around 34%) via their exchange to Kentucky, which is considered one of the most successful exchanges).

First, here's the latest numbers, as of 4 days ago:

September 10, 2014
Update: Private coverage and Oregon Health Plan enrollment through Cover Oregon

Medical enrollments through Cover Oregon: 353,454
Total private medical insurance enrollments through Cover Oregon: 101,092

Oregon Health Plan enrollments through Cover Oregon: 252,362*

*OHP enrollment data is current as of August 13, 2014. An updated number will be posted soon.

Dental enrollments 
Total private dental insurance enrollments through CoverOregon 1: 20,686

Net enrollments 
Net private medical: 78,616
Net private dental: 14,603
 

1 Total numbers are the number of enrollments that have occurred through Cover Oregon.

Between my son being sick for the past 4 days (he's better now, thanks!), losing my internet connection for 2 days (it's back up now, thanks!) and just generally being swamped with work, I don't have time to give these stories the attention they deserve, but they're all worth checking out:

Health Insurance: Enrolling Rural America

Americans living in rural areas will be a key target as states and nonprofit groups strategize how to enroll more people in health law insurance plans this fall.

Though millions of people signed up for private insurance or Medicaid in the first year of the Affordable Care Act, millions of others did not. Many live in rural areas where people “face more barriers,” said Laurie Martin, a RAND Corp. senior policy researcher. Brock Slabach, a senior vice president at the National Rural Health Association, said “the feds are particularly concerned about this.”

More legislators want to shut down Cover Oregon

The headline certainly seems like a Bad Thing, as does the opening paragraph...

Shift in Oregon Health Plan cuts funds to Eugene shelter program

EUGENE — One of the last resorts for mentally ill people in Eugene suffering a crisis will be closed this month after a change in state health care policy took one-third of a shelter's money.

Bummer. See? Obamacare is hurting people...wait, what's that??

Lane County public health spokesman Jason Davis says the expansion of the Oregon Health Plan means there are fewer indigent, uninsured mentally ill people who need short-term crisis housing.

With fewer clients forecast to be in indigent programs, the state is reducing contracts with agencies.

Oh. Never mind.

Reminds me of the "joke" that if Barack Obama cured cancer, Republicans would attack him for hurting oncologists.

For awhile there I was concerned that Oregon's uglier-by-the-minute legal/technical headaches had caused them to stop bothering with regular updates; fortunately, they seem to be back on track again, updating both QHP and Medicaid numbers:

September 1, 2014
Update: Private coverage and Oregon Health Plan enrollment through Cover Oregon

Medical enrollments through Cover Oregon: 353,120
Total private medical insurance enrollments through Cover Oregon: 100,758

Oregon Health Plan enrollments through Cover Oregon: 252,362*

*OHP enrollment data is current as of August 13, 2014. An updated number will be posted soon.

Dental enrollments 
Total private dental insurance enrollments through CoverOregon: 20,572

Net enrollments 
Net private medical: 78,683
Net private dental: 14,502

Net QHPs are down 31 due to what I presume is normal net attrition, but total enrollments have gone up by another 745 people.

Medicaid expansion, meanwhile, has shot up by another nearly 12,000 people.

Huh. OK, exactly 1 day after I snarkily speculated that Cover Oregon is unlikely to release an enrollment update anytime soon due to their increasingly-ugly legal (and technical) battles with Oracle Corp., take a guess what just happened this morning...

August 25, 2014
Update: Private coverage and Oregon Health Plan enrollment through Cover Oregon

Medical enrollments through Cover Oregon: 340,621
Total private medical insurance enrollments through Cover Oregon: 100,013   

Oregon Health Plan enrollments through Cover Oregon: 240,608*

*OHP enrollment data is current as of August 6, 2014. An updated number will be posted soon.

Dental enrollments 
Total private dental insurance enrollments through CoverOregon 1: 20,018

Net enrollments 
Net private medical: 78,714
Net private dental: 14,299

On the one hand, the total QHP number has jumped an impressive 3,103 over a 19 day period, or 163/day, so good on them.

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