The Final Graph before 2015 Open Enrollment (#OE2) Begins

OK, with the HHS Dept. issuing this press release a couple of hours ago, I can now make one, final update to The Graph before the 2015 Open Enrollment Period (#OE2) kicks off.

As you can see, there are only cosmetic changes at this point. A week or so ago, I had estimated that the number of current QHP enrollees had likely dropped from 7.3 million as of 8/15/14 down to somewhere between 6.8 - 7.0 million. However, according to the HHS press release, the actual number "as of October" stood at 7.1 million. I don't know if that means the beginning, middle or end of October, but let's assume it's somewhere in the middle, or October 15th. [Update: HHS confirmed that this number does indeed run through 10/15].

So, how about since 10/15? Well, it dropped 100K per month in September and October. A straight-line continuation would put it at 7.0M as of 11/15 and 6.9M as of 12/15. However, I'm assuming that the bulk of the 200K reduction to date stems from a combination of the "3 month grace period" factor and the citizenship/immigration/income data issues, all of which were resolved one way or another at the end of September (and thus should already have been included in the October number). Further attrition since then should be fairly nominal.

The bottom line is that in the end, 2014 QHP enrollments will end the year at almost precisely the same 7 million people that the CBO projected in the first place (and which the media, pundits, etc...including myself...all obsessed over to no end last spring).

Something else: While the main focus of this statement was to explain/justify HHS's projection of 9.0 - 9.9 million 2015 exchange QHP enrollees (down from the CBO's 13 million), it also had two other important data points. The first is the 7.1M enrolled in October that I noted above. The second is this passage, way down on page 4:

There are 8 to 12 million people with individual off-Marketplace coverage. 

Read that again.

Up until now, given the dearth of reliable off-exchange individual market policy enrollments, I've been estimating this number as being around 8 million, based partially on my own limited data and partly on the RAND Corp. survey from last spring. However, according to HHS today, this number is as low as 8 million but as high as 12 million.

Of course, when it comes to off-exchange policies, not all of them are ACA-compliant QHPs. Many of these are the noncompliant policies which people were freaking out about being cancelled by the boatload last fall. As I've noted repeatedly, however, out of the 6 million or so which could have been cancelled, only 1-2 million actually were last year, due to President Obama's/HHS's "grandfathering" waiver announcement in response to the "You can keep your policy!" backlash.

So...if 5-6 million could have been cancelled and only 1-2 million were, that leaves another 4 million or so which are still on the books nationally, which is how I'm assuming HHS's "8 - 12 million" figure breaks out (8 million off-exchange QHPs plus 4 million off-exchange noncompliant policies).

Some of those 4 million will be cancelled at the end of this year; others will be extended a 2nd year and others yet a 3rd year, at which point everyone should be on a fully ACA-compliant policy, either on or off the exchanges.

And so, without further ado, here's the final Graph before the whole thing starts all over again: