Washington: @WAPlanFinder reports 7,800 SEP enrollees over past month, MASSIVE savings for tens of thousands; #GetCovered today!

Washington HealthPlan Finder

This just in from the Washington Health Benefit Exchange...

The Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) reports that tens of thousands of Washingtonians now pay less each month for healthcare coverage. Within two months of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) becoming federal law, the Exchange passed on the expanded savings it made available to new and current customers on the state’s insurance marketplace, Washington Healthplanfinder.

“There has never been a better time to sign up for healthcare coverage in Washington,” said Pam MacEwan, Chief Executive Officer of the Exchange. “We’ve been hearing from people across the state who are saving hundreds or in some cases more than a thousand dollars per month.”

Tracy Roberts from Seattle posted to Facebook, “I just opened my bill for July and it’s $242 less than I presently pay . . . That’s incredible! Absolutely incredible and completely unexpected. Life will be a little easier for now.”

The latest report from the Exchange shows that customers are saving more than $90 per month on average, with maximum savings available to those reporting unemployment income. The report also highlights that 35,000 Washington Healthplanfinder customers now pay less than $2 per month for health insurance.

The current special enrollment period allows anyone without coverage to sign up and offers existing customers the chance to compare and upgrade their coverage using their newly available savings. Those who sign up through Washington Healthplanfinder by July 15, can get coverage starting August 1.

“There are a lot of new plans available. Many customers in a Bronze level plan are discovering that a Cascade Care Silver or Gold level plan is more affordable than ever with these additional savings,” MacEwan said, referring to plans offered on the Exchange which feature lower deductibles and fewer out-of-pocket costs.

One customer in Snohomish County reported being able to switch to more comprehensive coverage and still save $100 a month. Their prescription medication had become so expensive they had stopped taking it. During the special enrollment period, they upgraded from a Bronze to a Silver plan which cost $100 less per month and made their medication more affordable.

Customers seeking coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder can contact an Exchange certified Broker, Navigator, enrollment center or the Customer Support Center between 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday at 1-855-923-4633; TTY: 855-627-9604 to initiate coverage (closed July 5). Free help from local experts is accessible by visiting Washington Healthplanfinder.  Extended special enrollment is through August 15 allowing people additional time to sign up for health insurance.

From the report referred to in the press release (all data as of June 6th):

Signups During Public Health Emergency SEP (from 2/15 to 6/6)

  • 31,500 total Qualified Health Plan (QHP) customers currently signed up
  • 11,000 using the PHE SEP

Signups Post-ARPA Implementation (from 5/6 to 6/6)

  • 12,000 QHP customers signed up, 3,600 using the PHE SEP.
  • SEPs for new QHP customer signups outpace SEPs for existing customers.

It's important to note that the vast majority of the 31,500 SEP QHP enrollees were existing enrollees making changes to their plan; this is a good thing, but I'm more interested in new enrollees.

The next bar graph has a somewhat confusing note: It says that "Since the 5/23 report, over 2,500 new customers have signed up"...

...but later on in the report, it states that the actual number of new enrollees since 5/06 (the date that the WA exchange launched expanded AmRescuePlan subsidies), 7,824 new enrollees have signed up, or roughly 245/day.

Unfortunately I don't have pre-COVID SEP enrollment data for Washington State for comparison, but I'd imagine this is 2-3x higher than average, based on data from other states.

Subsidies Post-ARPA Implementation

The Exchange automatically extended new ARPA savings to existing, eligible customers after May 6, which will lower their premiums starting in June.

  • The Exchange automatically recalculated subsidies under ARPA rules, resulting in savings to 138,000 QHP customers (64%).
    • Included 17,500 QHP customers reporting unemployment benefits who receive maximum savings.
    • Included 23,000 QHP customers who did not receive subsidies pre-ARPA.
  • Overall percent of Exchange customers receiving subsidies increased from 63% to 74%.

Premium Savings Post-ARPA Implementation

  • On average, 138,000 QHP customers received additional $90/month in savings to lower their premium costs.
  • Those reporting unemployment benefits received $124/month on average.
  • Those over 400% FPL, previously not eligible for subsidies, are now receiving over $200/month on average.
  • Overall, 35,000 QHP customers now have premiums under $2/month per person (an increase of ~400% post ARPA).

Plan Selection and Switching Post-ARPA Implementation

  • The number of QHP customers selecting silver plans has increased post-ARPA. Pre-ARPA, 38% of QHP customers were in silver plans, with 49% in bronze.
  • Post-ARPA, among those switching plans, 84% are choosing silver, and among new QHP customers, 51% are choosing silver.
  • While the number of people changing plans post-ARPA remains low (16%), of those changing, 70% are upgrading.
  • Of those upgrading, 95% upgraded from Bronze to Silver, 3% from Bronze to Gold.

Cascade Care Post-ARPA

Post-ARPA, customers continue to have strong interest in Cascade Care plans. During Open Enrollment for 2021, about 40% of new customers chose a Cascade Care plan. Pre-ARPA, 41% selecting a new plan chose a Cascade Care Plan, increasing to 44% post-ARPA.

The chart above also includes the total number of new SEP enrollees since February 15th: 9,231 (1,407 from 2/15 - 5/05; 7,824 from 5/06 - 6/06). That's a remarkable increase from 17/day to 245/day, which I believe is a far more dramatic pre-ARP to post-ARP increase than I've seen in any other state. Sounds to me like Washington residents were more likely to hold off on jumping onboard until after the ARP was locked in than average.

Customer Demographics

  • Overall customer demographics (FPL, Age, Race) during the PHE SEP mirrors total enrollment.
  • For new customers Post-ARPA, when comparing new customers to the enrolled population, Black and Multi-Race enrollments percentages have increased. (Multi-race may be an artifact).
  • For new customers Post-ARPA, the percent of enrollments among 18-34-year-olds increased by over 10 percentage points, while enrollments among 55-64-year-olds decreased .