UPDATE: Maryland: MD Health Connection announces 158.9K QHPs, highest exchange enrollment in 4 years

via the Maryland Health Connection press release:


  • 2020 enrollment total largest in four years

BALTIMORE (DEC. 17, 2019) – A total of 158,600 Marylanders enrolled in private health coverage for 2020 on Maryland Health Connection, the largest enrollment in four years on the state-based health insurance marketplace.

That was 1,637 more enrollees than a year ago when 156,963 enrolled. It was also the largest enrollment on the health insurance marketplace since 2016 when 162,652 enrolled. Enrollments for 2020 coverage grew in 20 of 24 jurisdictions.

The 45-day open enrollment period for the coming plan year began Nov. 1 and ended Sunday. A few hundred additional enrollments will be completed this week for consumers who had begun the process but hadn’t finished by Sunday night.

I'm not sure from the wording here whether those "few hundred" are already included with the 158,600 figure, but if not, I presume the final tally will be around 159K even.

“We’re happy to continue to get more people into coverage, including many who were previously shut out of the individual market because of pre-existing conditions,” said Michele Eberle, executive director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, which administers Maryland Health Connection. “With a lot of support, we’re helping to drive the state’s uninsured rate to 6 percent, the lowest ever.”

A “reinsurance” program that Maryland launched with federal approval last year helped reduce average monthly premiums by 10 percent for 2020, after reducing them by 13 percent for 2019. Gov. Larry Hogan, the General Assembly and the Maryland Insurance Administration worked on the program with MHBE and others to respond to rising premiums, which were felt most by households that were not eligible for federal tax credit help. That rate reduction applied throughout the individual health insurance market for people who buy their own coverage if they can’t obtain it through their employer or another government program -- even if they are ineligible for financial help through Maryland Health Connection.

Off-exchange enrollment in the individual market for 2020 totaled 56,550 -- 50,450 through CareFirst and 6,100 through Kaiser Permanente.

Whoa--that's new! Very few states keep track of off-exchange individual market enrollment at all, and it's even rarer for them to report those numbers publicly, much less break them out by carrier. Bravo to Maryland; I hope other states follow their lead on this unexpected data bonus!

Total individual market enrollment for 2020 in Maryland, both on and off-exchange, was 215,150 -- a 1 percent increase from 212,149 a year ago. That also exceeded by 12 percent the projected enrollment of 192,969 that the actuarial firm Lewis & Ellis Inc. had estimated last fall for the 2020 individual market with a reinsurance program.

So 74% of Maryland's ACA-compliant Individual Market is now on-exchange. If this is representative nationally, that would mean the total ACA-compliant Individual market is around 13.6 million people.

More enrollments are likely to be added this spring when Maryland becomes the first state in the nation to use state income tax information to enable a special enrollment. Residents who check off on their state tax return that they lack health insurance and wish to be contacted, will be alerted that they qualify for free or low-cost coverage if they act within 35 days.

This is the "Easy Enrollment" law I wrote about last spring. This could prove to be a big deal for both Medicaid and subsidized exchange enrollment.

Consumers visited MarylandHealthConnection.gov by mobile device nearly a half-million times this open enrollment -- 170,000 more times than on a desktop computer for the second straight year. Also, consumer- assistance “navigators” throughout the state assisted with more than 18,000 private plan enrollments.

UPDATE: Maryland's final count was actually slightly higher:


  • Total includes 334 who completed enrollments since Sunday’s deadline

BALTIMORE (DEC. 20, 2019) – The final count was 158,934 for private plan enrollments on Maryland Health Connection for the 2020 plan year.

That included 334 people who had begun their applications by the deadline last Sunday night but hadn’t been able to complete them. The call center for the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange helped them finish this week.

Total enrollment was 1 percent more than a year ago, and the highest in four years.