UPDATE: California wraps up OE4 with...1.56 million QHPs

OK, I'm a bit confused by Covered California's press release just now:

Covered California Finishes Fourth Open Enrollment With More Than 412,000 New Consumers and Strong Participation From Young Enrollees

  • New plan selections met enrollment projections for the fourth open-enrollment period.
  • Nearly 50,000 consumers signed up for health care coverage in the final two days before the Jan. 31 deadline.
  • Strong finish and overall enrollment are credited to effective work by Certified Insurance Agents and enrollers and robust television, digital, print and outdoor advertising that ran throughout the open-enrollment period.
  • The crucial demographic of young adults ages 18–34 accounted for 37 percent of enrollment, contributing to a healthy risk mix for 2017.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California announced Monday that it finished the open-enrollment period with 412,105 new consumers signing up for health coverage.

“California met our projections, driven by the nearly 50,000 consumers who signed up for health insurance in the last two days of open enrollment,” Covered California Executive Director Peter V. Lee said. “This high number of sign-ups validates the surveying we did after the election. When consumers know they have a pathway to get health care made affordable by tax credits, they sign up.”

In addition to the strong pace of enrollment, Covered California’s initial analysis shows that the number of new young adults signing up for coverage comprised a large proportion of new enrollees for the second consecutive year.

Young adults in the crucial 18- to 34-year-old demographic accounted for an estimated 37 percent of this year’s plan selections, compared to 38 percent in the open-enrollment period for 2016, 34 percent for the open-enrollment period for 2015 and 29 percent for the open-enrollment period in 2014.

“Covered California is continuing to enroll consumers in large numbers and with a good mix of younger and older, which helps keep rates down for everyone and keeps the entire individual market stable,” Lee said.

Lee said survey research conducted in December among potential enrollees showed that political uncertainty about the future of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act created some concern, but did not prevent individuals from enrolling. Instead, concerns about affordability remain top of mind, with some uninsured consumers still not understanding that financial help, or subsidies, are available to reduce the cost of health insurance.

“The demand for affordable health insurance remains very strong in California,” Lee said. “Reaching consumers where they are with the information they need is critical to attracting the enrollees we need to make competitive health insurance marketplaces work.”

While the rate of renewal from 2016 to 2017 will not be clear until March, when it is possible to reconcile paid premiums, Lee said there are early indications that consumers who enrolled in 2016 are continuing into 2017.

OK, so far the key enrollment number is 412,105 "new consumers signing up"...

On Friday, the federal government reported enrollment and renewal figures for federal marketplace states. Using similar criteria, Covered California has enrolled more than 368,000 new consumers during the fourth open-enrollment period and continues to enroll 1.2 million consumers, for a total enrollment of more than 1.5 million people.

Huh. That's...a bit confusing.

The last CA update had the numbers as around 1.27 million renewals + 322,014 new enrollees, or 1.59 million total. I was hoping that the final number might break 1.7 million, but obviously that wasn't meant to be. For comparison, last year's official tally was 1,575,340.

This wrap-up gives the total as either 1,568,000 or 1,612,105 total. So, final enrollment was either 0.5% lower than last year...or 2.3% higher. Hmm.

That's fine...but what accounts for the 44,100 difference between the 368K and 412K "new enrollee" figures? And what's with the "using similar criteria" clarifier?

The only thing I can think of is that 412,000 selected plans, but around 44,000 of them were subsequently cancelled for one reason or another (failure to pay in time, legal residency issues, etc)?

UPDATE: OK, according to this article from the Charlotte Observer, this is correct: 412K, minus 44K dropouts, leaving 386K actual new enrollees. Added to the 1.2 million renewals, that's 1.56 million (a precise number would be nice here, guys...), down about one percent from 2016.

“Covered California continues to grow and make a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people,” Lee said.

Now that open enrollment has ended, Covered California has begun new marketing focused on enrolling those who are eligible to sign up now due to changes in their life circumstances, such as losing their health care coverage, getting married, having a child or moving.

Special-enrollment marketing includes multicultural and multi-segment radio, digital and display advertising statewide.

For more information on special-enrollment rules, visit: www.CoveredCA.com/individuals-and-families/getting-covered/special-enrol....

Consumers who qualify for Medi-Cal may enroll through Covered California year round.

For more information, consumers should visit CoveredCA.com, where they can enroll online or get information about obtaining free, confidential in-person assistance in a variety of languages. They can find a certified enroller at a storefront in their area or have a certified enroller contact them through the “Help on Demand” feature.

Consumers can also enroll over the phone by calling Covered California at (800) 300-1506.

UPDATE: OK, I've confirmed the exact final enrollment number: 1,556,676 people, about 1.2% below last year.