Washington State: 196K QHP selections thru 11/28; up 3% year over year

A couple of weeks ago I reported that the Washington Health Benefit Exchange reported enrolling a seemingingly astonishing 190,000 people into 2019 policies in just the first 10 days of the 2019 Open Enrollment Period. This is highly misleading, of course, because only a small fraction of these are new enrollees, and a somewhat larger portion are current enrollees actively renewing their policies.

The vast bulk of that 190K are current enrollees who are auto-renewed into 2019 policies by the exchange itself...with the option to then actively go into the system and opt to cancel their renewals if they wish. There's nothing wrong with this, and in fact more and more of the state exchanges seem to be doing it this way as they improve and streamline their software (I've confirmed that Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Washington State are "front-loading" autorenewals this year, although Maryland hasn't actually reported their data yet).

It does, however, make it difficult to track just how well the OEP is doing overall. HealthCare.Gov still "back-loads" autorenewals, as do Colorado and Connecticut. I'm not sure how California, DC, Idaho, New York or Vermont are handling auto-renewals since none of them have reported any numbers so far.

In any event, the WA HBX has just issued an updated, official enrollment report, and things continue to look pretty good:

Washington Healthplanfinder Sign-Ups Top 195,000 Entering Final Two Weeks of Open Enrollment

Statewide #GetCoveredWA campaign underway now through the Dec. 15 deadline for 2019 coverage

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange today announced that more than 195,000 customers have used Washington Healthplanfinder to select a health plan for 2019 coverage – a nearly three percent increase over the same time last year. Customers who have not yet signed up for coverage now have two weeks to connect with a health plan before open enrollment ends on Dec. 15.

Below is a full breakdown of updated plan selections and consumer interest through the first four weeks of open enrollment:

Last year, WA ended Open Enrollment with a total of 243,227 QHP selections, which they're still 20% short of, but there's still two weeks left to go. They're 2.7% ahead of where they were at the same point last year.

“Time is running out to sign up for a health plan that provides important coverage for individuals and families,” said Pam MacEwan, CEO of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange. “We urge anyone still needing to select a health plan to visit wahealthplanfinder.org, schedule an appointment with an in-person assister, or attend one of the many enrollment events held throughout the state over the next two weeks before it’s too late.”

Extra opportunities to connect with in-person help are being introduced now in support of Washington Healthplanfinder’s #GetCoveredWA effort – a statewide campaign to get all Washingtonians signed up for health and dental plans before Dec. 15.

More than 70 enrollment events hosted across Washington state will be staffed with trained navigators and brokers available to walk customers through the enrollment process. Services provided by these in-person assisters also includes help identifying when customers are eligible to receive financial help that can lower the cost of premiums, along with cultural, linguistic, and disability support for customers with special needs.

The easiest method for customers to find any navigators, brokers or enrollment events in their neighborhood is by downloading the WAPlanfinder mobile app. In-person assistance is also provided at each of the 10 full-service enrollment centers that will host extended hours of operation in conjunction with #GetCoveredWA.

Any partners of the Exchange who want to raise awareness of the in-person resources offered as part of #GetCoveredWA are encouraged to share materials featured in the partner tool kit. Additional promotional elements include a poster and images ready to be shared digitally on both Facebook and Twitter.

Help enrolling in coverage is also available over the phone through the Exchange’s toll-free Customer Support Center (1-855-923-4633). The Customer Support Center is available on weekdays from 7:30 a.m. through 8 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Additional hours of operations will be offered during the final days leading into the close of the open enrollment period.