UPDATED: Washington State: Excellent! 174K QHPs thru 1/02 (83% of target)

In 2014 and 2015, the Washington State ACA exchange was one of a handful of exchanges which also handled the billing for QHP enrollees...and in their case, ran into a lot of technical problems in doing so. This year, they've given up on trying to handle the payments themselves, offloading them to the actual insurance carriers as most other states do. I have no idea how much impact this change has had as opposed to improved outreach, the individual mandate penalty increase and so on, but whatever the reasons, WA's numbers are dramatically improved this year:

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange today announced that nearly 174,000 residents have signed up for or renewed their health coverage as 2016 open enrollment enters its final month. The deadline to select a Qualified Health Plan through wahealthplanfinder.org is Jan. 31 for coverage effective March 1. Customers who select a plan by Jan. 23 will have their coverage start Feb. 1.

As of Jan. 2, nearly 124,000 residents have renewed a health plan throughWashington Healthplanfinder since the start of open enrollment on Nov. 1, with more than 50,000 residents signing up for new coverage. Those totals combine to represent an almost 48 percent increase in sign-ups through the same point in the 2015 open enrollment period.

“We are very happy with both the interest and results to date. Customers continue to sign up through Washington Healthplanfinder at unprecedented levels,” said Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “We fully expect an increase in plan selections in these last weeks of open enrollment.”

Totals on Qualified Health Plan selections through Week 9 of Open Enrollment:

  • Qualified Health Plan Enrollment / OE2 (2015) / OE3 (2016)
  • Total Plans Selected: / 117,705 / 173,947
  • New Customers Selecting Coverage: 32,195 / 50,215
  • Renewing Customers Selecting Coverage: 85,510 / 123,732

*NOTE: 2016 plan selection totals represent the number of individuals signed up for health coverage as of Jan. 2, not the number of applications received.

Even more impressive:

Young consumers – affectionately known as “Young Invincibles” – stand out as one of the largest areas of growth over the previous enrollment period. More than 50,000 residents under the age of 35 signed up for a new plan or renewed their coverage through the first nine weeks of 2016 enrollment, including more than 29,000 sign-ups among residents 26-34 years old. Those totals represent a 66 percent increase in sign-ups over last year within members of that age group.

This isn't quite as impressive as it sounds at first, since total enrollments have also gone up 48% (which is in and of itself impressive, of course, but I'm talking relative age group ratios here), but it's still a very good thing.

In any event, this brings WA up to around 83% of my personal target of 210K for the Open Enrollment Period, with 4 weeks left to go.

All customers signed up for coverage should be aware of the Next Steps after Qualified Health Plan Selection, beginning with premium payments to their insurance company. A bill for coverage should arrive within seven days of confirming a plan, and payment of the bill must be made directly to the company. The Exchange no longer aggregates premiums or accepts customer premium payments for the individual market.

Additionally, customers should look to their insurance company to research if online accounts with access to printable membership cards are available to them. Information about accessing insurance cards, as well as other services associated with coverage, can be found at knowyourplan.org.

Residents who have signed up for a Qualified Health Plan through Washington Healthplanfinder should also be aware of upcoming important information regarding their tax filings. In early February, customers will receive a 1095-A form from the Exchange that must be filed with federal taxes for reconciliation of any advanced premium tax credit received during coverage year 2015.

Free help is available through Washington Healthplanfinder’s customer support network to all residents who have not yet signed up for coverage. The toll-free Customer Support Center (1-855-923-4633) is open every Monday-Friday from 7:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. In-person assistance is available by locating a broker or navigator by zip code through the Customer Support link on www.wahealthplanfinder.org.

UPDATE: Someone reminded me that the 174K / 118K comparison is somewhat unfair because last year Washington only counted paid enrollees as "QHPs selected", whereas this year they, like every other state except for Massachusetts, are including everyone who selects a policy regardless of whether they actually make their first payment or not.

If you assume the standard 10% non-payment average, that means that a true apples-to-apples comparison would be more like 155K / 118K, or a 32% increase, which is still impressive, if not as much so.