California: 48,000 NEW enrollees added in 14 days; TOTAL QHPs likely >1 million to date?

Covered California’s Open-Enrollment Period off to a Solid Start

  • More than 48,000 new consumers selected a plan during the first two weeks of open enrollment, which is slightly ahead of last year’s pace.
  • New subsidized enrollees are using increased tax credit money to purchase coverage that is more comprehensive.
  • The majority of consumers signing up will be able to pay lower prices in 2018 than they would have for the same plans last year.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California issued its first enrollment snapshot for the first two weeks of the current open-enrollment period. From Nov. 1 through Nov. 14, more than 48,000 new consumers signed up for coverage through Covered California, which is slightly ahead of last year’s pace when more than 39,000 consumers selected a plan during the first two weeks of November 2016.

Note: This is actually 23% ahead of last year at this point, which I'd say is much more than "slightly" but good for them regardless. Of course, percentages are skewed depending on how you report them--this only includes new enrollees; obvoiusly if, say, 500,000 current enrollees have also renewed their policies, it would only be 548K vs 539K, or less than 2% higher, so it depends on your POV.

Last year, according to the official CMS Public Use File, when you include current enrollees re-enrolling, nearly 900,000 people actually selected QHPs in the first 12 days last year. This strongly suggests that CoveredCA's total enrollment numbers have likely actually broken 1 million to date.

“Covered California is off to another positive start as consumers take advantage of the lower prices being offered this year to buy quality health care coverage,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “While we are encouraged by these early results, we will continue to work hard to get the word out so consumers know they have until Jan. 31 to sign up for coverage.”

An important reminder of both the extended deadline and why CA residents should still consider enrolling earlier regardless:

Unlike a majority of other states in the nation, California’s open-enrollment period runs through Jan. 31, 2018. However, consumers who want their insurance coverage to begin on Jan. 1, 2018, must enroll by Dec. 15.

In addition to the enrollment data, Covered California announced that its data shows that consumers are using their increased tax credit money to purchase more-comprehensive coverage with richer benefits. The percentage of new subsidy-eligible consumers selecting a Gold-tier plan has increased from 4 percent during the first two weeks of 2016 to 12 percent during the same time this year. Silver continues to be the most-selected tier, which is good news because that is the level at which consumers receive the best value due to cost-sharing reduction benefits.

Meanwhile, the number of new consumers enrolled in Silver-tier plans, which were subject to a surcharge caused by the administration’s decision to end reimbursement payments for cost-sharing reduction benefits, has dropped from 56 percent to 45 percent. The analysis also found small increases in consumers selecting Bronze and Platinum coverage.

“Consumers are shopping smart, and finding out that there are many good options this year that are well within their reach,” Lee said. “Anyone who has shopped in the past should come back and take a second look because prices are lower for many.”

Lee pointed to Covered California’s expansive marketing campaign as a key ingredient of the exchange’s consistency and stability since it opened its doors in 2014. Covered California budgeted $111 million dollars for marketing and outreach during the current fiscal year.