Massachusetts: 276K QHPs to date; already ahead of last year; going all out on mandate awareness
I just received another official update from the MA Health Connector...
On enrollment, as of today, we have 261,619 enrolled members for January. We have an additional 14,368 plan selections made (but unpaid) for a total of 275,994 under the CMS definitions. New enrollments for 2019 continue to trend slightly ahead of last year.
A week or so ago I noted that Massachusetts had enrolled just over 264,000 people (10,000 of whom hadn't actually paid their January premium yet...MA's exchange is one of the only states which is able to actually track payment data live, since they handle it themselves). They were up 10K over the same date in 2017, or up around 4% year over year.
I don't have a hard "thru 12/05" number for 2017 this week, but they did confirm the 276K number is still "slightly ahead", which is good.
In fact, since last year's official Open Enrollment Period selection tally was 267,260 people as of 1/23/18, that means Massachusetts is already 3% ahead of last year's final total or only 2% short of it, depending on whether you include the unpaid enrollees or not.
Part of the reason for that success could be the fact that they're actively and aggressively promoting the state's individual mandate penalty, which is exactly what I wrote about last night:
There's only one problem with this: The impact of the mandate penalty is completely psychological in nature. It only works (to the extent that it does at all) if people know that they'll be penalized financially for not complying with the mandate.
...The point is this: It was politically very brave of New Jersey Democrats to go ahead and reinstate the ACA individual mandate; it was the right thing to do for several reasons (especially the 5.8% premium drop), but the mandate has also always been extremely unpopular, even among people who support the law otherwise. All of that bravery will be for nothing if the state doesn't do everything in its power to make sure NJ residents know about the mandate penalty.
While I'm not sure how extensive the measures being taken in New Jersey or DC are, it appears that Massachusetts is indeed doing all they can to get the word out to Bay Staters. This is from a toolkit brochure which is part of a robust education/outreach push by the MA Health Connector, with the hashtag #StayCovered. It's pretty self-explanatory: