ARP

Get Covered 2021!

 

Nearly every state (+DC) has re-opened enrollment on their respective ACA exchanges in response to both the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the American Rescue Plan (ARP), which substantially expands and enhances premium subsidies to millions of people!

If you've never enrolled in an ACA healthcare policy before, or if you looked into it years ago but weren't impressed, please give it another shot now. Thanks to the ARP (and some other reasons), it's a whole different ballgame this spring & summer.

Here's 10 important things to understand when you #GetCovered:

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This just in from CMS...

2021 Marketplace Special Enrollment Period Report: February 15 – May 31, 2021

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that over 1.2 million Americans have signed up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov since February 15, the start of the 2021 Marketplace Special Enrollment Period (SEP) opportunity, through May 31, with 376,000 consumers signing up for health insurance in the month of May.[1]

I projected at least 1.2 million SEP enrollees via HC.gov a week or so ago. On the other hand, I also noted that President Biden appeared to have let this number slip a week earlier anyway, so it wasn't that impressive of a projection:

ACA Signups Logo

Back on May 11th, I noted that total enrollment in healthcare policies either specifically created by (or expanded to more people by) the Affordable Care Act had likely broken 30 million Americans...an all-time high for the healthcare reform law signed by President Obama 11 years ago.

Last weekend, the Health & Human Services Dept. confirmed this, putting the actual total at around 31 million:

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a new report that shows 31 million Americans have health coverage through the Affordable Care Act – a record. The report also shows that there have been reductions in uninsurance rates in every state in the country since the law’s coverage expansions took effect. People served by the health Marketplaces and Medicaid expansion have reached record highs.

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via MNsure:

Get Covered This Summer: More Minnesotans Are Seeing Cost Savings Through MNsure

ST. PAUL, Minn.—For the first time, Minnesotans with higher incomes who purchase health insurance through MNsure can access advanced premium tax credits that lower the cost of monthly health insurance premiums. MNsure is encouraging Minnesotans whose incomes were previously too high for tax credits to take another look at private health care coverage through MNsure.

So far, over 9,600 Minnesotans have enrolled through MNsure’s special enrollment period, which began on February 16 and ends on July 16. The special enrollment period is open to those who are uninsured or insured through a plan outside of MNsure. Private plans from BlueCross BlueShield, HealthPartners, Medica, Quartz and UCare are available.

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Moments ago I posted the news that the HHS Dept. (via the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid) has confirmed what I wrote about nearly a month ago: Enrollment in ACA healthcare policies are at an all-time high, with over 31 million Americans currently covered by either ACA exchange plans, ACA Medicaid expansion or ACA Basic Health Plan coverage.

This news is based on a formal report issued by the Assistant Secretary for Planning & Evaluation (ASPE). Let's take a closer look!

Health Coverage Under the Affordable Care Act: Enrollment Trends and State Estimates

Based on enrollment data from late 2020 and early 2021, approximately 31 million people were enrolled in Marketplace or Medicaid expansion coverage related to provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the highest total on record.

KEY POINTS

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A month ago I noted that by my back-of-the-envelope math, total enrollment in ACA healthcare coverage had likely reached 30 million people, concluding that:

#ACA Enrollment Is At An All-Time High Right Now Almost Any Way You Slice It.

I based this on a rough comparison of ACA enrollment in 2016 (which saw the highest ACA Open Enrollment Period enrollment to date, with nearly 12.7 million people selecting Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) during the official OEP) versus the most recent data available as of spring 2021.

My rough math was as follows (spring 2016 / spring 2021):

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via MNsure:

New benefits make health insurance more affordable for more Minnesotans

  • MNsure enrollees are saving almost 20% each month on health insurance plans

ST. PAUL, Minn.—Minnesotans purchasing health insurance through MNsure are seeing increased savings thanks to recent changes to the Affordable Care Act made through the American Rescue Plan. MNsure is reminding Minnesotans in need of health insurance that they can sign up for coverage today through July 16 through the marketplace’s special enrollment period.

“The new and expanded financial help available only through MNsure can help lower the cost of health insurance by hundreds or even thousands of dollars a year for Minnesota families,” said MNsure CEO Nate Clark. “On average, Minnesotans who already have a plan through MNsure are seeing their monthly premiums reduced by almost 20%, which means you can have the peace of mind that comes with having health insurance, while keeping more money in your pocket.”

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Unlike most states which kept their 2021 COVID Special Enrollment Period running continuously while they transitioned to the newly-expanded ACA subsidies, Access Health CT took a 2-week break in order to retool their website for the enhanced financial assistance.

During that break, I reported that the Connecticut ACA exchange enrolled 5,890 people via the SEP from 2/15 - 4/15, or roughly 98 per day, and that this was a rate 3.3x higher than the same time period during the typical pre-COVID era.

Access Health CT shut down their COVID SEP on 4/15, but then re-launched it with the new subsidy formula via the American Rescue Plan on May 1st. Since then, I've been informed, they've enrolled an additional 2,780 people through the exchange, or around 121 per day. That's 4x higher than the ~30/day they averaged in 2019.

Molina Healthcare

An article about Molina Healthcare's first-quarter financial report by Inside Health Policy reporter Amy Lotven caught my eye today:

Molina exchange business grew by 302,000 consumers to reach a total 620,000 enrollees in the first quarter, outpacing the company’s earlier 500,000 estimate, growth that CEO Joseph Zubretsky says was driven by strong product design and pricing, higher effectuation rates, lower attrition and the special open enrollment period.

Molina’s marketplace business had a Medical Loss Ratio of 77.3%, which was due to the higher-than-expected direct COVID-related costs as cases surged in many areas.

There's a lot packed into that first paragraph.

First, their ACA enrollment (which presumably includes off-exchange) for Q1 was 24% higher than expected, which is quite an eye-opener.

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Earlier today, Greg Fann asked a fair question:

Any data on % of exchange enrollees receiving subsidies after ARP? It was ~87% pre-ARP. Also suspect many off-exchange enrollees are moving on-exchange mid-year 2021. @charles_gaba @xpostfactoid @bjdickmayhew @LouiseNorris @larry_levitt @cynthiaccox

— Greg Fann (@greg_fann) May 12, 2021

Several fellow health wonks have chimed in. I spitballed perhaps 95%. Fann puts it at 96-97%. Cynthia Cox of the Kaiser Family Foundation thinks it could be even higher:

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