Just One (Million) More Thing(s)...

In all the fuss & bother of this afternoon's huge HC.gov enrollment announcement, I nearly forgot about one other important tidbit. Fortunately, Jeffrey Young of the Huffington Post caught it: (and thanks to commenter mic08n64 for the reminder):

The enrollment total is likely to increase in the coming days because administration officials are still working with about 1 million people who weren't able to get through to the call center or website near the deadline and left contact information with the exchange.

There's two important things to keep in mind about this number:

  • First, the odds are that a decent portion of these 1 million people ended up returning to HC.gov on either Wednesday or Thursday to complete their enrollments thanks to the 2-day deadline extension tacked on at the last minute Tuesday evening.

How many? Well, that's impossible to know. I know the grand total for Sunday - Thursday was 1.80 million, and that 1.10 million of that was on Monday and Tuesday combined. That leaves about 700K for Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday. I've been assuming perhaps 270K on sunday, which would leave around 430K people for the 2 extra days. Let's assume that, say, 300K of those 430K were among those who left their contact info. That would still leave around 700,000 people for CMS/HC.gov to contact, right?

  • Second: But wait, there's more! Remember that in many cases, the person leaving their contact info is trying to enroll their whole family (or at least one other person). I haven't a clue how many of this group are single/enrolling for themselves alone, but the number of people represented has to be somewhat more than 1 person per contact.

The average U.S. household size is around 2.5 people, but let's assume that most of the last-minute crowd are single; figure perhaps 1.8x people per name. That would bring the total number of potential "at bat" enrollees back up to around 1.25 million people.

Next, let's assume that not all of those folks will actually be hook back up with HC.gov/CMS (missed phone calls, email lost in spam filter, whatever). That likely knocks the number of potential additional enrollees back down to...right around 1 million people again.

Of course, some of them will likely end up spilling over into February 1st coverage instead, which is what would have happened if they hadn't made the mid-December cut-off anyway, so this might just be cannibalizing later enrollees for earlier ones, front-loading the final number. However, that's fine as well.

There are so many unknown factors at play already, I'm not going to officially tack these 1 million "callback" enrollees onto the total for now...but it's nice to know that there's a potential "cushion" of up to 1 million more QHP enrollees sort of floating in the ether for the moment.

Plus, again, this is for HC.gov only; I know that at least some of the state exchanges have similar "callback" policies which could pad their numbers a bit as well.