California: Enrollment Surge Continues as CoveredCA Approaches Jan. 31 Deadline for Open Enrollment
Hmmm...that's the actual headline in the press release, but the actual numbers may tell a slightly different story...
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Heading into the final week of open enrollment, Covered California has continued to see signups surge. As of Jan. 20, over 243,000 Californians have newly enrolled in coverage for 2024, a 13 percent increase over the same period last year. Over 1.5 million Covered California enrollees have renewed their coverage.
There is still time for uninsured Californians to sign up for coverage through Covered California, but only until Jan. 31.
“If you don’t have health insurance for yourself or your family, now is the time to enroll,” said Covered California Executive Director Jessica Altman. “With enhanced federal subsidies and a new state program to lower out-of-pocket costs, there has never been more help available to make quality health insurance more affordable and more attainable.”
Covered California’s new enrollment surge is seen across nearly all segments of the state’s diverse population, including a 31 percent increase in Latino enrollment, a 19 percent uptick in Asian American signups and 11 percent growth in African American enrollment.
OK, that's all great news, but let's look at the hard numbers:
- Yesterday the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported California as having enrolled 1,736,391 people in ACA exchange policies as of Jan. 13th, which is actually slightly lower than last year's final Open Enrollment Period (OEP) total of 1,739,368 (2,977 fewer, or -0.2%).
- This press release says that "over 1.5 million" have renewed coverage, plus "over 243,000" who had newly enrolled as of Jan. 20th. Combined, that's over 1,743,000 total.
- That means an additional 6,600 or so enrolled between Jan. 14th - Jan. 20th, nudging California from 0.2% behind to 0.2% over last year so far.
- If you assume this pace of ~944/day continues from Jan. 21st - Jan. 31st, that would mean perhaps another 10,400 or so, which would put the final total at somewhere around 1,754,000. Then again, the press release says "over" 1.5 million and "over" 243K, which presumably means it could be several thousand more. There may also be a last-minute mini-spike, which typically happens in the last day or two of Open Enrollment.
- Let's say it ends up being 1.77 million...that would put California's grand total up ~30K over last year, or up 1.8%.
That's not bad, of course, but I'd hardly call it "surging" given that the other 49 states saw 2024 OEP enrollment actually surge by nearly 34% on average.
HAVING SAID THAT, let's look at the rest of the press release:
Figure 1: New Enrollment Increases Across Ethnic Groups
Californians all across the state — from Redding to San Diego — have signed up in higher numbers than they did last year.
“We are starting our second decade of service to Californians under the Affordable Care Act, and the demand for affordable health coverage is as great as it’s ever been,” Altman said. “In 2024, we are thrilled to help consumers lower their out-of-pocket costs even further with our new cost-sharing reduction program that eliminates deductibles in three Silver plans and reduces other out-of-pocket costs.”
Through a budget package passed by the state Legislature and enacted by Gov. Newsom last year, Covered California is offering a new program that will reduce the cost of accessing health care for consumers by lowering out-of-pocket costs, including eliminating deductibles in all three Silver cost-sharing reduction plans.
The new cost-sharing reduction program for out-of-pocket costs will be available to Californians with incomes up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level, or $36,450 for single enrollees and $75,000 for families of four.
Through Jan. 20, over 850,000 of Covered California’s 1.7 million enrollees have qualified for these cost savings and richer benefits, and more than two-thirds of them can get an Enhanced Silver cost-sharing reduction plan for $10 or less per member each month.
Signing Up for Coverage Is Easy
Consumers can learn more about their options by visiting CoveredCA.com, where they can easily find out if they qualify for financial help and see the coverage options in their area. Those interested in learning more about their coverage options can also:
- Get free and confidential assistance over the phone, in a variety of languages, from one of more than 14,000 certified agents and community-based organizations throughout the state that provide free, confidential help.
- Have a certified enroller call them and help them for free.
- Call Covered California at (800) 300-1506.
“Covered California has made signing up for health insurance a simple task,” Altman said. “You can find help in every community and in nearly every language through our vast network of certified agents and Navigators. Do not hesitate to get help — or apply on your own at CoveredCA.com — but make sure you do so before Jan. 31.”