Maryland: Evergreen Co-Op enrollments cut off pending profit-based conversion

I haven't written a single word about Maryland since early October. Last year their ACA exchange was very good about posting fairly regular enrollment updates; this year they've been dead silent about it so far, which is rather surprising (and no, I don't think it's because their numbers are bad...every other state I have data for seems to be doing pretty well or even better than last year so far).

Anyway, there's one bit of news out of the Old Line State (yes, I had to look it up to find out what their nickname is) today which is disappointing but not surprising when you understand the circumstances:

The Maryland Insurance Administration barred Evergreen Health from selling health insurance policies for individuals until federal and state regulators decide whether to allow the cooperative to convert to a for-profit insurer and receive a much-needed cash infusion.

Roughly 6,000 people who bought an Evergreen plan through the state's health insurance exchange last year now have only weeks to choose a new plan or automatically be assigned to another insurer's policy in order to have coverage starting Jan. 1. Another 3,000 people who bought individual plans directly from Evergreen will be on their own to pick a new insurer.

Evergreen is one of the handful of ACA-created Co-Ops which has managed to survive last year's #RiskCorridorMassacre (among other trials), and as I noted a few months ago, converting from a co-op into a private, profit-based insurance carrier is apparently the only way they think they can survive going forward:

Evergreen Health, Maryland’s version of the innovative nonprofit insurers created under the Affordable Care Act, decided Monday to become a for-profit company to avoid the possibility of a shutdown, according to its chief executive.   

If the switch is approved as expected by federal and state officials, Evergreen’s unprecedented move will leave standing only five of the 23 co-ops, or Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans, which started nearly three years ago.

...Evergreen wants the switch to be unobtrusive to customers. According to Beilenson, its name will stay the same, and members will keep their insurance cards and current coverage. Those members include about 8,000 people who bought their plans through Maryland’s state-run ACA insurance marketplace. The rest get coverage on their own or through small or large companies.

Unfortunately, it looks like they weren't able to complete all the paperwork and get everything squared away in time for OE4, so they had to pull the plug for the time being:

Insurance regulators had hoped that Evergreen would work through the regulatory process in time for the beginning of 2017 coverage. But exchange shoppers must sign up by Dec. 15 if they want their coverage to take effect Jan. 1, and with that deadline rapidly approaching, Redmer said he had to pull the plug on Evergreen's individual market business.