Connecticut: @AccessHealthCT reports 99,406 #ACA exchange enrollees in first 6 days...for a simple reason

Last Friday, Access Health CT, Connecticut's state-based ACA exchange, posted their first 2021 Open Enrollment Period data numbers, and the first QHP enrollment number looks pretty eye-popping at first glance: 99,406 Nutmeggers enrolled in the first 6 days! Wow! Only around 108,000 enrolled throughout the entire 2020 OEP, so that's pretty impressive...

...except that I'm pretty sure that  99% of this figure consists of automatic renewals of their existing exchange enrollees. The next number down, 1,279, is their "2021 OE Acquisition Summary" number. In other words, it looks like Access Health CT has 98,127 people currently enrolled in exchange plans who have been auto-renewed for 2021, plus another 1,279 new enrollees who actually signed up in the first six days.

Assuming that pace stays the same, by the 12/15 deadline they'll have added perhaps 9,600 enrollees to the 98K current enrollees, for a total of around...108,000 people, give or take. Of course it won't stay steady--there's usually a small surge in the first few days, a lull in the middle of Open Enrollment and then a larger surge in the final week as people scramble to #GetCovered ahead of the enrollment deadline.

What's of more interest this year in particular is that the 98,127 current enrollees are around 91% of the number of CT residents who had selected policies at the end of last year's OEP...just a 9% net attrition rate. This is significantly higher than average. For instance, in 2017, 111,542 CT residents selected policies during OEP, but by the end of the year it was down to 85,682 people still enrolled in effectuated policies. That's a 23.2% net attrition rate. In 2018, 114,134 signed up during OEP, but in December it was down to 93,137, or an 18.4% net drop.

These are pretty typical of exchange plans as a whole (in 2018, national exchange enrollment dropped from 11.75 million selecting plans during OEP to 9.17 million effectuated in December...again, a 22% net drop).

Normally you'd expect Connecticut to only have perhaps 86,000 current enrollees instead of over 98,000. The increase is almost certainly due to the ACA working exactly as it should in the middle of a global pandemic where millions of people have lost their employer-sponsored health insurance: When that happens, some people become eligible for Medicaid via ACA expansion, while others become eligible for a 60-day Special Enrollment Period on the ACA exchange...and in most cases, they're eligible for financial subsidies to help cover the premiums (as well as deductibles/co-pays in many cases).