New Mexico: Hold the phone: beWellNM reports 22.6% Open Enrollment INCREASE after all?

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A couple of weeks ago, New Mexico's state-based ACA exchange, BeWell NM, reported that they had closed out the 2023 ACA Open Enrollment Period with a total of 49,689 Qualified Health Plan (QHP) selections:


This section contains enrollment data through January 15, 2022.

1. Total Plan Selections (net): Count of unique individuals who have selected a Plan Year (PY) 2023 Marketplace medical plan. Count includes all new and re-enrolling consumers (defined in Indicators 2 and 3), regardless of whether the consumer has paid the first month premium. Count does not include plans that were canceled or terminated.: 40,689

As I noted at the time, this appeared to represent an 11% drop in QHP enrollment vs. the 2022 Open Enrollment Period's 45,664 QHP selections. Not catastrophic, but certainly not great, and par for the course for most state-based exchanges this year, many of which seem to have plateaued in enrollment after years of outperforming the federal exchange.

I did mention one important caveat, however:

I've been informed there were some technical issues experienced during the transition which may have had an impact on accurately determining the prior year's enrollment.

I wasn't given anything beyond that. However, the following press release was sent out by BeWell NM earlier this week (sent via email; no link yet):

BeWellnm Announces Successful Open Enrollment Period with 22.6% Enrollment Increase, Well Above National Average

  • Successful open enrollment period aided by operational and leadership stabilization, along with technological improvements for customers.

Albuquerque, N.M. (DATE) – BeWellnm, the New Mexico Health Insurance Exchange, announces the close of a successful 2023 Open Enrollment Period, which saw an enrollment increase of over 22.6% – or more than 7,500 additional enrollees – compared to the prior year. This enrollment growth is significantly higher than national averages during the 2023 Open Enrollment period. With a greater emphasis on low and no-cost options during the 2023 Open Enrollment period, 37% of all plan selections now cost less than $10 per month.

“The successful 2023 Open Enrollment period was the byproduct of operational and technological stabilization, and the dedicated staff at beWellnm. [BE1] The leadership of our new CEO, Bruce Gilbert, and interim leadership from GetInsured set the table for stability and growth,” said beWellnm Board Chair David Shaw.

Huh. The PR doesn't clarify the actual total number of QHP selections in either the 2022 or 2023 Open Enrollment Periods, just that it's more than 7,500 higher this year.

If the 40,689 figure for 2023 is accurate, subtracting 7,500 makes the 2022 OEP tally roughly 33,189...and, as it happens, 40,689 is exactly 22.6% higher than 33,189.

In other words, this press release is basically saying that last year's QHP total was overstated to the tune of around 12,500 people.

As it happens, the 2021 OEP enrollment total was 42,984, which would mean that 2022 enrollment was down 7.7% y/y instead of being up by 6.2%...which, if you think about it, makes total sense given that New Mexico transitioned from the federal exchange to their own state-based exchange that fall.

Anyway, I hope to receive further clarification from BeWell NM, but assuming they've cleared up whatever technical/reporting issues they were having last year, a 22.6% enrollment increase makes a lot more sense this year given the extremely generous supplemental state-based subsidies being offered by New Mexico to low/moderate-income enrollees starting in 2023.

Thanks to operational, training, and technological improvements, beWellnm consumers were able to easily get online, compare affordable health insurance options, and enroll in high quality coverage – at record-high rates. New Mexicans who contacted the beWellnm Customer Engagement Center were able to resolve their questions on the first call, resulting a dramatic 70% decrease in call volume from the previous open enrollment. 2023 Open Enrollment saw over 28,000 calls handled during the 11-week open enrollment period – with record-low average wait times of under 20 seconds contributing to the enrollment increase. BeWellnm’s web presence also contributed to the successful 2023 Open Enrollment period. Streamlined technology resulted in a 6% reduction in web sessions needed per user.

“On behalf of the staff and board of beWellnm, I am proud to report the successful close of the 2023 Open Enrollment. The mission of beWellnm is to provide New Mexicans with low or no-cost options for health insurance, and our rates of increase show that the needed technological and operational upgrades are working,” said Bruce Gilbert, CEO of beWellnm.

In 2022, beWellnm contracted with GetInsured, the nation’s leading provider of health insurance exchange technology and customer service solutions for health and human services agencies, to provide consultative and operational support during the period of transition. GetInsured provided temporary, interim operational leadership for a 10-month period in the lead-up to the hiring of Bruce Gilbert as beWellnm’s new CEO.

“GetInsured was proud to support beWellnm during its leadership transition and throughout Open Enrollment,” said Heather Korbulic, senior policy and strategy lead for GetInsured. “Our goal last year was to ensure beWellnm was successful in enrolling uninsured New Mexicans in affordable, comprehensive health insurance. The numbers released today prove that to be the case.”

The beWellnm Open Enrollment Period for Plan Year 2023 began Nov. 1, 2022 and closed on Jan. 15, 2023. BeWellnm is a marketplace where tens of thousands of New Mexicans can get low-cost or no-cost health insurance. This year many New Mexicans saw lower monthly payments, reduced co-pays, and lower deductibles on