Oregon: Current enrollees may still be able to qualify for January coverage/tax credits

Hat Tip To: 
Nick Budnick

A few days ago, I reported that Oregon had only enrolled 40,581 people in private 2015 policies via Healthcare.Gov as of December 14th. I further speculated that even if you include the big Deadline Spike on the 15th, the grand total for OR was likely around 48,000 total in time for January coverage...and of those, the odds are that around 8K of them are new enrollees, leaving around 40K manual renewals from this year.

At my last count, there were around 77K people still enrolled in 2014 plans as of late October, so that leaves potentially 37K people who will miss the boat for January coverage (at least with tax credits...they can still enroll off-exchange without credits, and almost 27K have done so in the state so far).

Many of those 37K may have dropped off of the exchange voluntarily, due to switching to employer-sponsored coverage, aging into Medicare and so on, while others who don't qualify for tax credits anyway may have gone off-exchange instead this year.

However, politically/image-wise, there are still thousands of people who qualify for tax credits who probably missed the deadline.

In most states run through HC.gov, this isn't an issue, since their 2014 policies will be automatically renewed if they took no action by the 15th. However, in Oregon and Nevada, current enrollees had to renew/re-enroll manually by the 15th since they were moved from their respective state-run exchanges over to the federal one this year.

However, it seems that there may still be time after all. According to Nick Budnick of the Oregonian:

Despite the passage of a key open enrollment deadline on Dec. 15, there may still be a way for Oregonians to qualify for tax credits on health coverage that kicks in on Jan. 1.

Portland agent Andrew Eachon at Century Benefits says his firm has continued to use the federal health insurance exchange, HealthCare.gov, to help enroll people in tax credits and coverage that begins on Jan. 1 -- contrary to advertising and Cover Oregon press releases warning of the Dec. 15 deadline,

He said many Oregonians may qualify for a Dec. 31 deadline that ensures their coverage does not lapse the next day.

"If you're a Cover Oregon member, I can get you coverage effective Jan 1," he said. "We enrolled an agent in our office ten minutes ago."

The key? Consumers must have 2014 Cover Oregon coverage in place now, he said. And, importantly, they must fill out their Healthcare.gov exchange application carefully.

Read the whole thing; it's an interesting situation, if accurate.

In addition, Budnick's article has a different figure for the number of current CoverOregon enrollees:

Statewide, more than 50,000 people receive tax credits through Cover Oregon, the state exchange which decided to contract with HealthCare.gov after its own technology didn't work.

Another roughly 150,000 people have 2014 private insurance on the individual market without tax credits—roughly a tenth of them having purchased through Cover Oregon.

In other words, Budnick is saying that the current 2014 enrollee total is 50K + 15K, or 65,000 total...12K less than the 77K I have on record.

If Budnick's 65K figure is accurate, it's "bad" in one sense, because it means that 12,000 more people had already voluntarily "fled" the exchange than I thought...but it's also "good" in another sense, because it means that a much higher percentage of the current enrollees who didn't leave of their own accord have actively renewed their enrollments already (ie, 40K / 65K = 62% vs. 40K / 77K = 52%).

I've put in a request to my contacts at the Nevada exchange to see if this workaround might apply there as well.