Heads Up: Official HHS Report Should Be Released Today (UPDATE)

OK, I was suckered about this a couple of weeks ago, but I'm pretty damned certain about it this time: The HHS Dept. should be releasing their official ACA exchange report for all of March (and almost certainly the first half of April) in about 2 hours (around 2:15pm).

The GOP will no doubt claim that they're "only" releasing the March/April data today in response to their asinine "67% paid" report from last night, but a) HHS has already issued a formal response (more on this below), and b) the March HHS report has been widely expected for almost 3 weeks now.

To reiterate: In previous months, they released the monthly reports around 11-12 days into the following month, which would normally have meant around April 11th or so. However, due to the open enrollment extension period (4/15 for most states, 4/30 for a few others, even later for Nevada), HHS presumably decided to hold off another couple of weeks so they could include the additional 2 weeks in the report as well (which should add another 900K+ to the exchange QHP tally).

The biggest unknown for me is whether they'll separate the data out into 3/31 and 4/15 totals (which the data geek in me would prefer), or if they'll just lump everything together into a single 4/15 total.

In addition, I'm not sure how they plan on handling the 100,000+ additional QHP enrollments which I suspect came in between 4/16 - 4/30. Perhaps they'll make a general reference to these, perhaps not. They might even have detailed data through, say 4/23 or so.

Anyway, here's the numbers to look for:

  • Through 3/31: appx. 7.11 million exchange QHPs
  • Through 4/15: appx. 8.03 million exchange QHPs
  • Through 4/30: appx. 8.14 million exchange QHPs
  • (Not-so) Shocking Revelation: All three of the above numbers will include some unpaid enrollments!!!

Now, because I'm still on restricted duty due to still recovering from a nasty Shingles outbreak on my face (I'm able to work a couple of hours per day so far), I might not be able to do a full analysis/breakdown of the numbers until tomorrow. HOWEVER, here's a few other things to look for:

  • Will Texas and/or Florida triple their current totals of 295K and 442K respectively? There was heavy outreach in both of these states in the final couple of weeks of March.
    If both of these states do see massive gains, that will eat up a big chunk of the enrollments from the other 34 states, meaning they're likely to "only" jump up around 70% or so.
  • What sort of Paid/Unpaid data will HHS be able to provide? So far they haven't done so, giving the GOP an opening for the sort of nonsense reports that they tried to push last night. Hopefully HHS has done their own more recent, more comprehensive survey of the insurance companies, but more likely they'll simply wait until around the 3rd week of May to do so, since that's the point at which most of the insurance companies grace periods/etc. will finally have expired, and the "How many have PAID???" issue should be legitimately addressed.

Anyway, I'll update things as much as I can starting at around 2:15pm or so (not sure if that's Eastern time?), but don't expect a full reckoning until sometime tomorrow.

UPDATE: Oops, I almost forgot...I promised a bit more about the official HHS response to the GOP's "67%" press release; here's a snippet (emphasis mine):

HHS threw cold water on a Wednesday House Energy and Commerce Committee finding only 67 percent of enrollees in the federal exchange have paid their initial premiums, with an HHS spokesperson noting the report includes only half of the participating insurers and pointing out that bills are not yet due for many enrollees.

...The committee report included information from 160 FFE insurers, and broke down the percentage of paid enrollees by state.

HHS spokesperson Erin Shields Britt said in a statement that there are about 300 plans participating in the FFE, and added that the 67 percent figure "does not match up with public comments from insurance companies themselves, most of which indicate that 80 to 90 percent of the enrollees have paid their premium."

For the most part it's the same major points that I've already made: A good 38% of total QHP payments weren't even close to being due yet, and the insurance CEO's themselves have already stated figures ranging from 80-95%. The only additional point made here is that the GOP's "study" only includes data from 160 insurance companies operating on HC.gov out of the 300 or so total...and they don't specify which companies those are, nor what sort of market share/enrollment numbers those 160 include.

In other words, for all we know, they might be ignoring the major companies like BCBS, Aetna, Humana, Wellpoint, United Healthcare etc. and are only including the smaller companies which may only make up a tiny percentage of total enrollments.

For instance, let's say there's some little company which sold, say, 1,000 policies on HC.gov, vs. Blue Cross selling 50,000. If the little guy only has a 50% payment rate (500/1,000) and Blue Cross has a 90% rate (45,000/50,000), it's kind of important to know whether both of these companies were included or only the smaller one, y'know?

LOOK FOR ACTUAL HHS REPORT UPDATES IN NEW BLOG ENTRY ABOVE THIS ONE (assuming I was right about it being released today, of course)