Yes, that's right: We're quickly approaching the next big deadline: Private policy enrollment in time for coverage starting on February 1st.
Of the 3 monthly deadlines (January 1st start, February 1st start, March 1st start), this is the one getting the lowest amount of hype, for obvious reasons. The December 15th (or December 18, 23 or later, depending on the state) deadline was a huge deal because millions of people had to be renewed (either actively or automatically) in order to avoid any sort of a coverage gap, while a few million more people new to the exchanges jumped on board in time to start 2015 running. By my estimate, there should have been roughly 8.6 million people whose 2015 policies started on Jan. 1st.
At long last (well, by my standards anyway), the Washington State exchange has released updated enrollment numbers, and the results are...well, kind of all over the place.
First up, of course, is the private QHP enrollment figure:
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington Healthplanfinder today announced that more than 107,000 residents have signed up or renewed their Qualified Health Plan through wahealthplanfinder.org for coverage that started on Jan. 1. Approximately 26 percent of current Qualified Health Plan enrollees have signed up through Washington Healthplanfinder for the first time.
In addition, 471,602 new adults have accessed coverage through Washington Apple Health (Medicaid). The total number of residents who are currently enrolled under Medicaid expansion and in Qualified Health Plans totals nearly 580,000.
...Currently, 60 percent of customers who were enrolled in 2014 coverage have taken action to renew their coverage for 2015. Any remaining customers must return to their online account or contact the toll-free Customer Support Center to reconfirm their eligibility for financial help, select a health plan and submit their payment.
OK, this is kind of strange...the WA exchange has not posted any press releases since the 23rd, and specifically told me that they don't have any updated numbers since then, but this brief story at KLEW TV is pretty clear about it...and the numbers are about right, since they only include 1 more day of data (the press release went through the 22nd, and the 23rd was the deadline for January coverage in WA):
LEWISTON, ID - We start off with news about healthcare. 101,000 people in Washington State have bought health insurance through the Washington Exchange so far during this open enrollment period.
About 76,000 renewed their policies by the Tuesday deadline for January first coverage. About 25,000 are new to the exchange and will have insurance on the first day of the new year.
The article also gives a solid number for how many current enrollees didn't make the deadline and what their options are:
Washington Healthplanfinder Reminds Residents to Get Enrolled by 5 p.m. Today
Renewing Customers Must Also Take Action to Avoid a Gap in Coverage
OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Health Benefit Exchange is reminding residents today to select and pay for a Qualified Health Plan through www.wahealthplanfinder.org by 5 p.m. for coverage that begins on Jan. 1, 2015. As of yesterday, more than 92,000 residents have enrolled for coverage that starts in 2015, with 22,710 of those customers enrolling for the first time in a Qualified Health Plan.
Interest surrounding the Dec. 23 deadline has been strong with approximately 30,000 calls to the Customer Support Center since Friday, Dec. 19. Nearly 7,000 customers enrolled in a Qualified Health Plan from Friday to Sunday alone.
As you can see from the graphic I posted yesterday (and had to revise several times throughout the day), the official enrollment deadline for private policies starting on January 1st, 2015 has now passed for all 37 states operating via HealthCare.Gov, as well as residents of DC, Hawaii and Kentucky. It's certainly possible that any or all of these will announce some sort of "special circumstances" allowance for those who didn't make the midnight cut-off (10pm in Alaska), but I'm assuming those would be done strictly on a case-by-case basis.
OK, so what about the remaining 11 states?
Well, 4 of them (MD, MA, RI & WA) had later deadlines for January coverage all along: Maryland on 12/18 (Thursday) and the other 3 on 12/23 (next Tuesday).
New York and Idaho bumped their deadlines out from yesterday until 12/20 (Saturday), although Idaho had previously claimed that their deadline was 12/23, but are now claiming that it was originally 12/15. I still don't understand what happened there, but so be it: 12/20 it is for ID.
BOOM, there it is: Washington State has been pretty quiet on the update front, due, no doubt, to having to clean up a rather embarrassing screw-up on the part of their IT systems integrator a week or so ago when over 6,000 account enrollments/payments were accidentally cancelled.
However, I'm very happy to report that not only do they appear to have resolved most of this issue (2/3 of the accounts have been restored so far), but they've released detailed, up-to-date data...and it's pretty damned impressive so far:
Updated enrollment totals are included below:
Qualified Health Plans - New: 10,082
Qualified Health Plan Renewals: 45,843
Washington Healthplanfinder Business
Accounts Created: 1,550
Total Completed Applications – Link Sent to Employees: 73
Total Enrollments – Employee Plan Selection Complete: 3
*Note: These numbers reflect QHP enrollments through Dec. 10 and Medicaid Enrollments through Dec. 4.
They also reported on the Medicaid (Apple Health) situation:
On the one hand, moving from 2,000 in the first 3 days to a minimum of 6,000 (likely more like 10K, since the 6K refers only to "accounts" not "people") in the first 17 days is a perfectly reasonable point for Washington to be at right now.
Today, the Exchange identified an error affecting 6,000 customer accounts enrolled in Qualified Health Plans. Early analysis indicates that our system integrator, Deloitte, ran an automated enrollment cancellation process in error. The affected accounts, which are a portion of the total number of customers who are enrolled in coverage starting on Jan. 1, 2015, experienced an erroneous cancellation of both their enrollment and payment for 2015 coverage.
Well, on the plus side, the rest of the PR makes it clear that a) they're on top of it, b) it's gonna get resolved ASAP and c) it looks like this screw-up was Deloitte's fault, not the actual exchange itself (they call them out by name, which is noteworthy).
This article from the Seattle Times is primarily about the Washington State exchange still having some technical problems, but there's also a key #OE2 enrollment nugget:
Of the 25,000 applications completed on the exchange so far in the first week of the second round, more than 10,000 are for insurance plans while the remainder are Medicaid applications. Officials don’t yet know how many are people renewing their coverage, as opposed to new customers. Roughly 2,000 of the applicants have scheduled their first payments.
There you go: 10K applications, 2K actually selected & enrolled. Since the article was published at around 6pm on Tuesday, I'm assuming that number runs through Monday night.
As I posted last night, most of the ACA exchanges seemed to be running pretty smoothly for the launch this year, with two exceptions: CoveredCA, which was having some sort of serious problems throughout the day (I'm not clear how widespread they were), and the Washington Healthplanfinder, which was actually deliberately taken completely offline after only a few hours, and remained offline until this morning:
The problem was noticed during the site’s first hours of operation on Saturday morning, the first day of open enrollment for 2015 plans. The staff decided to take the site down for repairs at 10 a.m.
The good news is that the issue appears to have been fixed, and it didn't impact too many people (of course, that also means that an unknown number of potential enrollees were lost in the interim). In any event, it looks like we also have an unofficial Day One enrollment number, anyway:
I haven't done these average-rate-increase posts in a while, but this one came across my screen today so I figured I should post about it.
Back in August, Washington State announced that they had final approved rates on the 90 plans being offered on the WA exchange, with an average increase of 1.9%. However, I didn't know what the market share breakdown was at the time, so I couldn't tell whether that was weighted or not.
There's been a lot of fuss made about 2015 ACA exchange premium rates not being available at Healthcare.Gov until after the election. The presumption, of course, is that this is being done for political reasons. While this may be true, it could also simply be that there's a lot of different policy figures to plug into the federal system, and some states haven't even finalized their rates yet.
That being said, residents of some states can check out the 2015 premiums now and compare them against their current premium:
IDAHO: Idaho is the only state moving from HC.gov to their own exchange. Idaho residents can check out their 2015 rates directly via the state exchange site.
CLARKSTON, WA – Leaders with Washington’s Health Care Exchange are preparing for the second open enrollment period, but at the same time they are still working on resolving billing and computer problems for 1,300 accounts from the first sign-up period.
This is very confusingly worded, because it makes it sound like all 3 companies have been operating on the HC.gov exchange when it turns out that only 2 of them have. Wellmark did not participate in the ACA exchange; the 19,000 customers referred to here have off-exchange policies which are still ACA-compliant:
Commissioner Nick Gerhart said today that he has approved premium increases from Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield, CoOportunity Health and Coventry Health.
According to the last official HHS enrollment report from back in May, as of April 19, 2014, Washington State had enrolled 163,207 people in private policies via their ACA exchange. Of those, 8,310 people never actually had their coverage start due to non-payment (WA requires payment of the first month's premium as part of the enrollment process, so I'm not sure what happened in these cases, but presumably there was some sort of credit card account approval glitch, insufficient funds in debit card accounts and/or the like).
In any event, that means the actual paid tally as of 4/19 was 154,897, or 95%, which is pretty darned good.
Well, a couple of days ago the WA exchange issued a press release regarding the renewal process for 2015, and included 2 key data nuggets. First up:
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: