Site Updates & Miscellaneous: Graph, Projection, Attack Points, QHP Extension

Hat Tip To: 
(too many to list, thanks to all!)

Asked about the health law Tuesday, Mr. Reid plainly predicted the government would exceed its goal: “It appears now we’re going to be, when this enrollment period ends next Monday, we’ll be between 6.5 and 7 million people,” Mr. Reid said.

I'm not saying that he's wrong, mind you; 6.5M is possible, and 7M is conceivable (especially if the "extension for people who started before 3/31" enrollments are included, which they certainly should be); I'm just not there yet. One more big number from a medium-sized state and I may be; we'll see...

 An administration official points out that insurers have to consider exchange and off-exchange enrollment in ACA-compliant plans as part of the same risk pool. So, if more young people are going off the exchanges to sign up in new plans, the administration is just fine with that.

"When insurance companies consider the 'mix' they are required to look at who enrolled in ACA-compliant plans both inside and outside the Marketplace," the administration official said. "In other words, evaluating the risk pool requires counting everyone in ACA-compliant plans, whether on or off-Marketplace."

In Vermont, where state law requires all QHP enrollments to be done via the state exchange (ie, no off-exchange enrollments are officially allowed), they've run into a little problem on the small business side: The SHOP exchange still doesn't work. As a result, small businesses are, ironically only using off-exchange enrollments, due to a special arrangement with the Governor as a temporary measure...which doesn't seem to be so temporary anymore:

Businesses with 50 or fewer employees, who are required to buy health coverage through the state's health care exchange, still can't use the website to sign up.

When it became clear last fall that the website wouldn't be operable for businesses, the state announced that those companies would be allowed to purchase insurance directly from the two carriers in the exchange - Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont and MVP Health Care.

...Mark Larson, commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access, said he expects small businesses to be able to enroll their employees using the website during the upcoming open enrollment period, but the state is reserving direct enrollment with insurers as an additional option for businesses.

Betsy Bishop, president of the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, said she is disappointed the state hasn't been able to make the exchange website operable for small businesses, but allowing businesses to continue direct enrollment is a prudent move.

"Direct enrollment for 2015 is a good idea. We had proposed that six months ago as a permanent option. While it limits choice, there aren't currently any good alternatives," Bishop said.

And speaking of extensions due to website issues...

It's looking like it's official: Some or all of the exchanges will indeed be extending their QHP enrollment deadlines for people who started the enrollment process prior to the deadline:

Federal officials confirmed Tuesday evening that all consumers who have begun to apply for coverage on, but who do not finish by Monday, will have until about mid-April to ask for an extension.

Under the new rules, people will be able to qualify for an extension by checking a blue box on to indicate that they tried to enroll before the deadline. This method will rely on an honor system; the government will not try to determine whether the person is telling the truth.

The rules, which will apply to the federal exchanges operating in three dozen states, will essentially create a large loophole even as White House officials have repeatedly said that the March 31 deadline was firm. The extra time will not technically alter the deadline but will create a broad new category of people eligible for what’s known as a special enrollment period.

...Until now, the March 31 deadline has been the date by which most Americans must choose a plan — or risk a government fine in the form of a tax penalty once they file their 2014 taxes next year. The fine will not apply to people who get an extension under the new rules and enroll in plans within the allotted time.

ST.PAUL, Minn. – Today, MNsure announced new procedures that will help people get coverage and avoid a federal tax penalty even if their enrollment isn’t complete when the deadline expires on March 31.

“It’s just like waiting in line to vote after the polls close; if a consumer can show that they have attempted to obtain coverage before the deadline, we will make sure they can complete their enrollment,” said interim CEO Scott Leitz.