Maryland: Final #OE2 total: 123K QHPs, 166K Medicaid, Confidence Very High

This Just In...Maryland has announced their official final QHP selection tally for 2015 Open Enrollment (including the 2-week "wait in line" extension period):

289,131 Marylanders enrolled through Maryland Health Connection from Nov. 15, 2014 to Feb. 28, 2015. That includes 122,778 people enrolled in private Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) and 166,353 enrolled in Medicaid. Due to high demand during the final weekend of open enrollment, Maryland Health Benefit Exchange allowed people who started an application at or contacted the Consumer Support Center by Feb. 15 to complete the process by Feb. 28.

The official 2/15/14 tally was 119,096 QHPs, so they only added 3,682 more people during the "overtime" period, or less than 3% of the official total. California just reported about a 1.5% addition (21K / 1.439M total); Rhode Island added 2.4% (769 / 31,513). (37 states) added about 131,000 more people in their "overtime" week, or about 1.5% (as noted at the link, officially they only added 41K because HHS "pre-subtracted" 90,000 other enrollees who had their policies cancelled for legal residency verification issues). Overall, it looks like this year's "overtime" period only increased the total about 2% or so nationally.

For comparison, last year, about 11% (900,000) of the 8.02 million (national) total QHP selections came in during the 2-week "overtime" period.

Whether the increase this year being only 2% or so is a positive or negative sign depends on your perspective. While increased numbers are always better on the enrollment front, this is really more a sign that the technical messes of the 2014 season have, for the most part, been resolved; the extension period was less "successful" this year mainly because a far higher percentage of those who tried to enroll during the normal enrollment period were able to do so without too much drama.

In any event, Maryland should be proud of themselves: They managed to enroll 81% more people this year than last, a dramatic improvement given their prior technical woes. And that's before the upcoming #ACATaxTime special enrollment period...

A special enrollment period from March 15 to April 30, 2015 was announced for Marylanders who owe a tax penalty for not having health coverage in 2014 and who were unaware of that penalty so they can still enroll for coverage for the remainder of 2015. Open enrollment for 2016 is scheduled to begin Nov. 1, 2015 and end Jan. 31, 2016.

Finally, it's worth noting that Maryland is apparently so confident of their new exchange platform that they're going to be using it to enroll all Medicaid enrollees going forward...including those who have been using their existing system until now:

Medicaid enrollments will continue to rise during the coming months. These increases will reflect both new enrollees eligible through the program’s expansion under the Affordable Care Act, and current Medicaid enrollees who are redetermined Medicaid-eligible for the coming year and are being transferred from the Client Automated Resource and Eligibility System (CARES), the existing legacy enrollment system, into the new marketplace through Maryland Health Connection. Also, enrollments in Qualified Health Plans will continue to change as consumers experience "life events” that allow them to enroll or change plans outside of the annual open enrollment period. Maryland Health Benefit Exchange will return to monthly enrollment reports with the end of the regular open enrollment period for 2015.

On the Medicaid side, the new number is even more dramatic: Over 166,000 people added, for a net increase of nearly 277K since ACA expansion kicked in:

Medicaid Enrollment As of Feb. 25, the total enrollment in Medicaid and the Maryland Children's Health Program (MCHP) was 1,318,781. Compared to Dec. 31, 2013, the net change in Medicaid enrollment as of Feb. 25 was +276,694. This figure takes into account that individuals lose Medicaid coverage because of changes in household, age and income, as well as redeterminations.