Washington State: 200.6K QHPs thru 1/09

This isn't a particularly dramatic update given that CMS released their "mid-season" report yesterday, which already updated Washington's tally from 180K thru 12/20 to 194K as of 12/24...but an update's an update:

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange today announced that more than 200,000 customers have selected 2017 health and dental coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder since the open enrollment period began on Nov. 1 – an increase of almost 14 percent over the same point last year.

Hmmmm...the numbers look good, but that "...and dental" caveat is a bit troubling. I've asked for clarification; it's possible that the "dental" reference simply refers to the fact that some Qualified Health Plans also include dental coverage, as opposed to referring to standalone dental plans, which shouldn't be counted as QHPs.

With three weeks remaining until the current enrollment period closes on Jan. 31, the 200,000 Washingtonians who have already signed up for Qualified Health Plans equal the final number of plans selected at the end of open enrollment last year. These numbers are in addition to the more than 1.8 million people enrolled in Washington Apple Health (Medicaid), including 600,000 that are newly enrolled as part of the state’s Medicaid expansion effort.

This squares with my recent county-level post, which put WA's ACA Medicaid expansion tally at 608,000.

“As we head toward a record number of health and dental plans selections through Washington Healthplanfinder, it is evident more Washingtonians than ever are understanding the importance of securing coverage,” said Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “We urge anyone who has not yet signed up for a health or dental plan to avoid delaying and finalize their selections by Jan. 23 to have coverage that begins by Feb. 1.”

IMPORTANT: The deadline for February coverage in most states is Sunday (1/15), but there are 3 state-based exchanges which give 8 more days to enroll for coverage starting the following month: Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Washington State.

A breakdown of Qualified Health Plan selections through the first 10 weeks of open enrollment is as follows:

  • Open Enrollment (Nov. 1-Jan. 9) OE4 / OE3 / Change
  • Total Qualified Health Plan Selections: 200,612 / 176,722 / + 14%
  • New Customers: 65,729 / 52,945 / + 24%
  • Renewing Customers: 134,883 / 123,777 / + 9%

Today’s numbers also highlight the state’s changing individual health insurance landscape as 45 percent of current new customers are seeking coverage without federal financial assistance. This is an indicator that a majority of customers in the state’s individual market are now securing their health insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder.

“We are witnessing a shift in how people in the individual marketplace are purchasing health insurance and are excited to see more customers at all income levels using Washington Healthplanfinder,” said MacEwan. “For middle income families and individuals who may not qualify for federal financial assistance, Washington Healthplanfinder provides the best place for comparing prices to locate the most value in health and dental benefits.”

This tidbit is welcome, if a bit unexpected. I've stated before that I'd prefer it if all individual market enrollment was run through the ACA exchanges exclusively (which DC already does). There's been a slow trend towards this nationally, but it looks like that pace is picking up in Washington at least. The unexpected part is that even full-price enrollees seem to be more likely to go through the exchange this year. Huh.