BCBS/WellPoint report big off-exchange QHPs & up to 95% PAID

Hat Tip To: 
Stevef101, Fabianstoltz

The first article is mainly a breakdown of off-exchange QHP enrollments across various Blue Cross companies; normally this would be something of a jackpot for me, but since the BCBSA had already stated that they had over 1.7 million off-exchange enrollments not including March or April, these numbers don't really help out much. What I really need at this point are state-by-state off-exchange QHP numbers (ideally through at least the end of March), and I don't see those coming anytime soon.

HOWEVER, the article does also give an updated overview of where the "But how many have PAID???" situation stands...or at least, where it stood as of February 1st:

According to the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, between 80% and 85% of people who signed up for a Blues plan through a public exchange are paying their premiums. The percentage is based on a survey of member Blues plans as of Feb. 1. But individual Blues plans say that number is higher.

...Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan: The Michigan Blues plan says it has enrolled 180,000 through the state’s federally facilitated exchange — 95% have paid their first month’s premium. The carrier also enrolled another 53,000 outside of the exchange, and 89,000 signed up for its Keep Fit product, the only non-Affordable Care Act (ACA)-compliant product that the Blues plan continued from last year. Nearly 90% of its exchange enrollees were subsidy eligible.

...CareFirst, Inc.:  About 82% of enrollees have paid their premiums for coverage beginning between Jan. 1 and March 1, says spokesperson Scott Graham.

...(5) Horizon Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Jersey:  Between 80% and 85% of applicants have paid their first month’s premium.

...(7) WellPoint Inc.:  A spokesperson for WellPoint tells The AIS Report that it is too early to provide enrollment numbers, but she did confirm that its off-exchange enrollment is about 20% of its exchange business. And between 80% and 85% of signups have paid their first month’s premium. During its Investor Day conference March 21, WellPoint executives noted that the average age of those who enrolled was about what the company had anticipated.

Hmmm...ok, so as of February 1st, the payment rates were around 80-85% overall, with my own state of Michigan hitting a whopping 95% (which, I should note, is even higher than my own "93% paid or will pay" rule of thumb).

However, again, that only includes enrollees through 2/01. How about some more recent data?

Well, lo and behold, look at what just came out today:

1. Wellpoint, the nation's second-largest insurer, said it saw a major enrollment boost toward the end of the Obamacare sign-up period in the 14 states where it sells exchange plans, including California and New York. The company said enrollment in exchange plans through Feb. 15 was 400,000, and it expects enrollment to increase to more than 600,000 after it factors in the late-March/early-April surge.

...3. What could have changed in the past month? Toward the end of enrollment, the average age of enrollees came down in a “meaningful fashion,” said chief financial officer Wayne DeVeydt. Wellpoint said it's seeing other positive enrollment trends. People are generally flowing to "bronze" and "silver" health plans, as the company expected. The company’s 2014 expectations for enrollment have pretty much been met. “We hit the sweet spot,” he said.

4. The company said it doesn’t know yet exactly how many new members it has, nor how many of the new enrollees were previously uninsured. About 90 percent of customers signing up in exchange plans have paid, but that figure doesn’t include those who signed up near the end of enrollment.

5. Overall, the company was bullish on its exchange strategy. Wellpoint likes the mix of customers it has so far, and they're buying the products the company expected them to. Wellpoint, once a major Obamacare critic, bet big on the exchanges. It spent $550 million over the past two years in preparation for the new marketplaces, Swedish said Wednesday morning.

Regardless of your opinion of whether a huge, profit-based insurance company bragging about its success is a good or bad thing in the scheme of things, no one can deny that the private, free-market insurance industry itself certainly seems to be very happy with the ACA so far.

More specifically, however, check out that 4th point: 90% of Wellpoint's enrollees have paid their first premium so far. It specifies that this doesn't include those who signed up "near the end of enrollment", which presumably means anyone with a May 1st start date (ie, enrolled between 3/16 - 4/15), which again, makes perfect sense.

I stand by my rule of thumb: A minimum of 93% of QHP enrollees either have paid already or will pay their premiums within a few weeks of the policy coverage starting. 

I hope to check back in on the "How many have PAID?" issue one more time in mid- to late-May. If my "93% rule" proves accurate, by late May, a minimum of 7.57 million exchange QHPs should be fully paid for.