SUMMARY OF #COVID-19 SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIODS:

ALL OTHER STATES: You may qualify for a 60-day Special Enrollment Period (SEP) if you've recently lost (or will soon lose) your employer-based healthcare coverage, or if you've experienced other Qualifying Life Events (QLE) such as getting marrinew yorked/divorced, moving, giving birth/adopting a child, getting out of prison, turning 26 etc. For these SEPs you may have to provide documentation to verify your QLE. Visit HealthCare.Gov or your state's ACA exchange website for details on the process.

Every year, I spend months painstakingly tracking every insurance carrier rate filing for the following year to determine just how much average insurance policy premiums on the individual market are projected to increase or decrease.

Carriers jump in and out of the market, their tendency repeatedly revise their requests, and the confusing blizzard of actual filing forms which sometimes make it next to impossible to find the specific data I need. The actual data I need to compile my estimates are actually fairly simple, however. I really only need three pieces of information for each carrier:

New Mexico is the latest state to post their preliminary 2021 rate change filings for both the individual and small group markets. There's several key things to note here:

Michigan is the 8th state (by my count) where the insurance carriers have posted their preliminary 2021 premium rate change filings. Every year brings some new twist (in 2018 it was CSR reimbursement payments being cut off; in 2019 it was the zeroing out of the ACA's federal individual mandate penalty; in 2020 it was sort of the repeal of the ACA's health insurer tax (HIT), although that didn't actually happen until after 2020 premiums had already been locked in; and for 2021...it's the COVID-19 pandemic, of course.

I've therefore added a new column for my weighted average rate change spreadsheets. So far only a handful of carriers have tacked on any substantial rate changes due to expected cost increases from testing & treatment of COVID-19 next year...the general rule of thumb seems to be that the added costs are pretty much gonna be cancelled out by reduced claims from non-COVID healthcare services (delayed/cancelled treatments/procedures, etc).

I wrote about this several times last year, but I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I haven't revisited the status of Oklahoma's Medicaid expansion ballot proposal since November:

In Red State Oklahoma, Medicaid Expansion Nears 2020 Ballot

A campaign in Oklahoma to expand Medicaid via the ballot box far eclipsed the necessary number of signatures needed to put the measure before voters next November 2020, supporters said Thursday.

The submission of 313,000 signatures to put a constitutional amendment on next year’s general election ballot shattered the required 178,000 needed by the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s office, organizers said. Media reports in Oklahoma said supporters of Medicaid expansion broke a state record when it comes to signatures needed for a statewide ballot initiative.

Over at healthinsurance.org, Louise Norris has already done the work for me in tracking down the preliminary 2021 individual and small group market rate changes for the state of Maine:

Average premiums expected to decrease Maine’s exchange in 2021

Maine’s three individual market insurers filed proposed rates for 2021 in June 2020 (average proposed rate changes are summarized here by the Maine Bureau of Insurance). For the second year in a row, average rates are expected to decrease for 2021:

Last evening, over three years after I posted my "If I Ran the Zoo" wish list of recommended improvements for the ACA, the U.S. House of Representatives finally passed H.R. 1425, the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Enhancement Act (#AHEA), which I simply dub "ACA 2.0":

House Democrats on Monday passed a bill that would bolster the Affordable Care Act by hiking premium subsidies and incentivizing states to expand Medicaid.

I wrote up a detailed, step-by-step explainer of all 30 provisions of the ACEA last week, and couldn't be happier to see it finally pass through at least one Congressional body.

Unfortunately...

In March 2019, Linda J. Blumberg, Matthew Buettgens, John Holahan and Clare Wang Pan of the Urban Institute ran a detailed analysis to determine what the impact on healthcare coverage would be in every state if the Texas vs. U.S. lawsuit (aka Texas vs. Azar or #TexasFoldEm) caused the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (ACA) to be repealed with immediate effect.

They also attempted to calculate how much federal funding every state would lose each year if the ACA were to be repealed as a result of the absurd Texas vs. U.S. (aka #TexasFoldEm) lawsuit. Nationally, they concluded that the U.S uninsured rate would increase by nearly 20 million people, while the 50 states (+DC) would collectively lose out on nearly $135 billion in federal funding.

Here's my weekly update of the spread of COVID-19 across all 50 states, DC & PR over time, from March 20th through June 27th, 2020, in official cases per thousand residents.

I've given up trying to tie every trend line to the state name; it simply gets too crowded near the bottom even with a small font size, so I've grouped some of them together where necessary.

Note that this graph doesn't take into account any of the rumored undercounts in Florida, Georgia etc...these are based on the official reports from the various state health departments. If and when those are ever modified retroactively I'll update the data accordingly.

I've highlighted the three states with the ugliest increases in per capit cases over the past week or so (Arizona, Florida and Texas), along with New York and Michigan for reference.

Click the image itself for a high-resolution version.

Note: The sudden jumps in New York and Massachusetts reflect reporting methodology changes; MA started including probable COVID-19 cases, while New York added a batch of 15,000 positive antibody tests results they hadn't been previously including.

Now that I've brought all 50 states (+DC & the U.S. territories) up to date, I'm going to be posting a weekly ranking of the 40 U.S. counties (or county equivalents) with the highest per capita official COVID-19 cases and fatalities.

Again, I've separates the states into two separate spreadsheets:

Most of the data comes from either the GitHub data repositories of either Johns Hopkins University or the New York Times. Some of the data comes directly from state health department websites.

Here's the top 40 counties ranked by per capita COVID-19 cases as of Saturday, June 27th:

Yesterday, the Trump Administration formally submitted their official brief with the Supreme Court of the United States asking SCOTUS to completely and fully strike down the entire Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act. This is the latest development in the utterly insane "California vs. Texas" lawsuit (formerly "Texas vs. U.S.", "Texas vs. Azar", or as I prefer to label it, "Texas Fold'em", a name originally coined by U of M law professor Nicholas Bagley but which doesn't seem to have caught on with anyone other than me so far.

I've written about this completely absurd lawsuit more times than I care to remember, but as a reminder, here's what it comes down to.

The image below is the "3-legged stool" of the Affordable Care Act.

The blue leg represents the various patient protections which the ACA requires health insurance carriers to provide--guaranteed issue, community rating, essential health benefits and so on.

For the past few months, I've been keeping track, to the best of my ability, of how many people have been enrolling in ACA exchange policies utilizing the COVID-19-specific Special Enrollment Periods which have been offered by 12 of the 13 state-based exchanges (SBEs). My most recent update brings the grand total of confirmed SEP enrollments to at least 260,000 across 8 states, averaging around 3,500 per day.

The actual number is obviously higher than this, of course, since I don't have any data from the other four state exchanges (DC, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont), although three of those four are pretty small anyway...and even in New York, their unique "Essential Plan" (the Basic Health Plan program established under the ACA itself) has likely been sucking up the bulk of individual market enrollees earning up to 200% FPL anyway...and you can enroll in the Essential Plan year-round regardless of the pandemic. I therefore doubt that NY's COVID SEP numbers for those earning more than 200% FPL are that dramatic. All told, I'd expect NY, RI, VT & DC to only add perhaps another 25,000 or so QHP enrollees to the table below:

Nothing remotely surprising here, but it's still good to remind people of what sort of "healthcare plans" would run rampant if the ACA is struck down by the GOP's lawsuit this fall:

E&C Investigation Finds Millions of Americans Enrolled in Junk Health Insurance Plans that Are Bad for Consumers & Fly Under the Radar of State Regulators

Investigation Uncovers Troubling Tactics to Mislead Consumers into Signing Up for These Plans & then Denying or Rescinding Coverage for Medical Care    

Washington, D.C. – Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Health Subcommittee Chairwoman Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chair Diana DeGette (D-CO) today released a report on the Committee’s year-long investigation into the anti-consumer practices of Short-Term, Limited Duration Insurance (STLDI) health care plans and the insurance brokers who sell and sign people up for these junk plans. 

OK, this surprised me a bit: #HR1425, the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Enhancement Act, has already received a 10-year budgetary impact score from the Congressional Budget Office. I don't think this is a formal score--the whole thing is only five pages and includes minimal text accompanying it, so it might be just a "draft" score or something. I presume that if Mitch McConnell were to shock everyone and actually give it a vote in the Senate (which won't happen), there would likely have to be a second, more elaborate scoring process done by the CBO first. Then again, perhaps not.

Anyway, in a nutshell, the CBO report on the House version of H.R. 1425 comes to the following conclusions regarding the budget impact and other, related results of the bill being implemented nationally. Keep in mind that this assumes that the bill became law and was implemented starting in 2021; the score includes the 10 year period from 2021 - 2030:

TITLE I: Lowering Healthcare Costs & Protecting People w/Pre-Existing Conditions:

OK, I don't know if I "scooped" everyone with my H.R. 1425 explainer yesterday or what, but the House Energy & Commerce Committee just now sent out an official press release announcing the bill, along with a one-page summary, more detailed explainer and the link to the text itself. It's kind of interesting to see what language they use and which sections they emphasize, espeically as compared & contrasted with my own write-up:

Health Committee Chairs Unveil Legislative Package to Make Health Care & Prescription Drugs More Affordable

Legislation Also Expands Access to Health Care, Protects People with Pre-Existing Conditions & Reverses Administration’s Ongoing Sabotage of the ACA

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