#ACATaxTime perhaps not such a dud after all: CA reports 18K more enrollees

Yeah, you just knew I couldn't resist: For all my "I'm on vacation this week!!" protests, this tidbit just wouldn't be denied:

Tax Experts Team Up with Covered California To Urge the Uninsured To Get Health Care Coverage

More Than 18,000 Californians Have Taken Advantage of Limited Special-Enrollment Opportunity; Consumers Are Encouraged to Sign Up by April 30

...“The Affordable Care Act is clear: All who can afford health insurance must buy it, and the good news is that it is more affordable than ever before,” said Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee. “It’s important for Californians without health coverage to sign up now to avoid the increasing tax penalty they will face in 2015 if they remain uninsured.”

Lee said that more than 18,000 consumers have taken advantage of the special-enrollment opportunity since it began Feb. 23.

OK. I had originally projected somewhere between 600K - 1.2 million people to enroll nationally via the 2015 tax filing season special enrollment period (running 45 days from 3/15 - 4/30 in most states). This estimate appeared to be a huge overestimate last week, when the HHS Dept. revealed that only about 36,000 people had enrolled via the 37 HC.gov states as of March 29th.

Extrapolating that number out to include the 10 additonal states which had also started their #ACATaxTime period by that point (CT's didn't start until April 1st, and 3 states aren't allowing a tax filing exception at all), I figured that the national total between 3/15 - 3/29 was more like 45,000...still well short of the 220K or so which would be necessary by that point to achieve the lower end of my projection range.

Cut to today's news out of California: 18,000 people in that state alone, or fully 50% as much as the 37 HC.gov states combined. Pretty impressive, considering that CA only made up about 12% of the 11.7 million Open Enrollment Period total (or around 16% as much as the 8.8 million HC.gov enrollees). A similar #ACATaxTime ratio should have resulted in CA enrolling perhaps 5,800 more people, not 18,000.

However, it's important to remember that the start and end dates of both figures are quite different (the CoveredCA press release doesn't give the end date, but I'm assuming that the 18K figure runs through Sunday night, April 5th):

  • HC.gov = 36,000 people in 15 days (3/15 - 3/29) = 2,400 per day
  • CoveredCA = 18,000 people in 42 days (2/23 - 4/05) = 428 per day

That means to date, CoveredCA has enrolled around 18% as many people as HC.gov did through the 29th...a bit higher than the 16% I'd expect, but not too out of line.

Taken at face value, this would suggest that HC.gov Tax Season enrollments have continued to trickle along at 2,400 per day since the 29th and have likely only added perhaps 22,000 more people since then. If so, that would mean only around 67,000 people nationally.

On the other hand, if you assume that the #ACATaxTime rate is ramping up as the 4/15 deadline approaches, this also makes sense for CA...because it started 3 weeks earlier than the HC.gov SEP, when the tax season enrollments were likely even slower. If a ramp up has happened over the past week or so, it would cancel out the slow start, possibly like so:

  • 2/23 - 3/14: 5,000 (250/day)
  • 3/15 - 3/29: 6,000 (400/day)
  • 3/30 - 4/05: 7,000 (1,000/day)

IF (and this is massive speculation on my part), if this scenario is what's happened in California...and if that same ramp-up is happening nationally, then that means that the national situation could be more along the lines of:

  • 3/15 - 3/29: 45,000 (3,000/day)
  • 3/30 - 4/05: 52,500 (7,500/day)

...which would total around 97,000 nationally to date.

IF that's the case, then it's logical to assume things would continue to ramp up even more as we head into the final week before the 4/15 deadline (perhaps 9,000/day?)...perhaps adding another 90K or so by the 15th? That would bring the grand total up to around 190K or so by the 15th.

After that, presumably things would drop back off again for the last 2 weeks of the SEP....perhaps another 50K or so, I'd imagine, for a final total of around 240K or so.

If so, that would still be well below the 600K I was figuring on, but a lot better than last week's 36K report seemed to indicate.

Again, I have no idea if this is how things are playing out/will play out, but it's all I have to work with for now.