Exclusive: HealthSherpa confirms a buttload of people are getting dirt-cheap ACA-compliant policies

Here's the Wikipedia entry for HealthSherpa:

HealthSherpa is a California-based technology company focused on connecting individuals with health coverage. The site was initially developed as an alternative to research plans from Healthcare.gov, and now provides individual health, dental and vision benefits to both part-time employees and retirees. As of February 2017, over 800,000 people have been enrolled in individual health coverage through HealthSherpa.

First, I want to clarify that I'm not shilling for HealthSherpa here. They aren't paying me for this post. I have no idea whether their customer service is awesome or sucks or anything like that.

Having said that, they are a pretty good resource for getting a feel for what the big picture situation is regarding open enrollment trends each year, and they have provided me with some internal data which they've OK'd me to share publicly.

It's important to note that all of the data here refers to exchange-based enrollments only. They reiterated to me that their individual market enrollments are on-exchange only:

  • As of November 7th, they had enrolled over 25,000 people in ACA exchange policies, which is "well over double" the same period from last year.

Assuming around 750,000 QHP selections nationally in the first 7 days, that means Health Sherpa has something like 3.3% of total ACA exchange enrollees. However, that's probably too low given yesterday's "600K Shocker" from HealthCare.Gov; assuming around 1 million nationally, they hold about 2.5% of the total. Either way, it's a reasonable sample to examine.

  • While they don't have an exact correlation, they say that their trends do tend to match the national numbers fairly well (spikes, dips, etc), so if they see a big spike, that probably means there's one nationally and so on.

As of the first week of November:

  • 30% of their enrollees are getting plans for less than $10/month (after tax credits, of course). I assume many of these are literally $0/month.
  • over 50% are paying less than $50/month
  • 63% are paying less than $100/month

I assume these are mostly Bronze plans, but they also note that:

  • Proportionately, Silver plans have dropped about 8 points from 78% to 70%. Where are they moving towards?
  • Bronze plans have increased 3.3 points from 20% to 23%
  • Gold plans have increased 4.5 points from 2% to 6.5%

And why is that? Simple: Silver Loading and the Silver Switcharoo Effect:

  • Average premiums overall have increased by about 28% (gee, imagine that!), but...
  • Average APTC subsidies have increased by about 36%, meaning...
  • Average net premiums (after subsidies) have decreased by about 12.5% overall.

That's right: HealthSherpa's average subsidized enrollee (which should be the vast majority of them) will be paying 1/8th less in 2018 because of Donald Trump's failed attempt to sabotage the ACA by killing off CSR assistance. Amazing. I'd say "thanks" but he's too stupid to understand sarcasm, so never mind.