Charles Gaba's blog

Get Covered 2021!

As of midnight on August 15th, the Big Deadline for the 2021 "No Excuse Needed" ACA Special Enrollment Period has come and gone in most states.

HOWEVER, you can still #GetCovered for the rest of 2021 in a few states (including two of the largest ones), and there are still millions of uninsured Americans nationally who are eligible for ACA-compliant coverage for the rest of this year via other options. Let's review!

2021 ACA Special Enrollment Period (SEP): If you live in California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York or Vermont, the deadline for the "no questions asked" SEP goes beyond 8/15. In CA, DC & NY it actually runs through the end of the year!

CMS Logo

CMS had already announced this previously but now it's official:

CMS Extends Open Enrollment Period and Launches Initiatives to Expand Health Coverage Access Nationwide

The Biden-Harris Administration, through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), is taking a number of steps that will make it easier for the American people to sign up for quality, affordable health coverage and reduce health disparities in communities across the country. Beginning this year, consumers will have an extra 30 days to review and choose health plans through Open Enrollment, which will run from November 1, 2021 through January 15, 2022, on HealthCare.gov.

HealthCare.Gov Logo

 

I've received an important reminder from the folks at HealthCare.Gov:

Continued Enrollment Opportunity for Consumers with Unemployment Compensation

The American Rescue Plan (ARP) provides additional savings to help consumers access affordable, quality health coverage options, including expanded opportunities for those who received or are approved to receive unemployment compensation in 2021.

Starting July 1, 2021, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) added a new function to HealthCare.gov to allow consumers who receive or are approved to receive unemployment compensation for any week beginning during 2021 to access new savings on health insurance coverage, if they qualify.

New York State of Health

via NY State of Health:

NY State of Health Enrollment Continues to Surge as More New Yorkers Sign Up for Low-Cost Coverage Following the American Rescue Plan and Enhancements Made to New York’s Essential Plan

MNsure Logo

via MNsure:

Federal COBRA Subsidies are Ending This Month, but Minnesotans Have Affordable Health Coverage Options Through MNsure

ST. PAUL, Minn.—The federal subsidy for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA, expires on September 30. The subsidy, part of the American Rescue Plan stimulus package, has helped unemployed Minnesotans who chose to continue with their workplace health insurance plan stay covered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Minnesotans who are losing this COBRA subsidy and are looking to keep their health care costs low should visit MNsure.org today to check out their health coverage options and see how much they can save,” said MNsure CEO Nate Clark. “Avoiding a gap in health coverage is more important than ever, so don’t wait.”

COVID-19

Two weeks ago I was inspired by a fellow wonk named Christopher Ingraham of The Why Axis to plot out COVID vaccinations, cases and deaths via bar graphs instead of my usual scatter plot graphs.

Today I'm posting updated versions of all three, with two major data updates:

Covered California Logo

via Covered California:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California announced on Thursday that executive director Peter V. Lee has informed the board that he will leave the organization in early 2022. Lee has served as Covered California’s first and only executive director, helping launch the exchange in 2012 and leading the organization that has provided millions of Californians with access to affordable, quality health coverage.     

“I’ve been privileged to be part of the Covered California team and the broader effort in this state to do everything we can to use the Affordable Care Act to expand coverage and ensure those with coverage get the right care at the right time,” Lee said. “I will be stepping down as Covered California’s executive director after the upcoming open-enrollment period, with pride and confidence in the team at Covered California, who have taught me so much and who are poised to continue our important work.”

COVID-19 Vaccine

Methodology reminders, including some important updates:

  • I go by FULLY vaccinated residents only (defined as 2 doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine).
  • I base my percentages on the total population, as opposed to adults only or those over 11 years old.
  • The 5 major U.S. territories don't vote for President in the general election, preventing me from displaying them in the main graph, but I have them listed down the right side.
  • NEW: Until now I've been using 2016 election data for Alaska; starting today, thanks to an updated analysis by RRH Elections, I'm finally able to use 2020 election results for Alaska (all other states +DC have been using 2020 county-level election data all along).
HHS Dept.

A little over a month ago, I made the following projection:

So, what does this mean for the final SEP push (again, it runs through 8/15 in most states)?

Well, it's hard to say, but I'd imagine it'll be a bit higher than the last week of July. That would mean something like ~220,000 more QHP selections via HC.gov states, and perhaps another 85,000 or so via the state-based exchanges (assuming they still make up roughly 28% of the national total). If so, that would put the final 8/15 tally at around 2.86 million new enrollees during the 2021 COVID SEP nationally (~2.05 million via HC.gov, ~808K via the SBMs).

Moments ago, via the HHS Dept (oddly, not via the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS), which usually publishes these enrollment reports):

Massachusetts

Massachusetts, which is arguably the original birthplace of the ACA depending on your point of view (the general "3-legged stool" structure originated here, but the ACA itself also has a lot of other provisions which are quite different), has 9 different carriers participating in the individual market. MA (along with Vermont) has merged their Individual and Small Group risk pools for premium setting purposes, so I'm not bothering breaking out the small group market in this case.

Getting a weighted average for Massachusetts is trickier than in most states, for a couple of reasons. The good news is there's an August 2021 enrollment report which breaks out exactly how many MA residents are enrolled in each carrier's policies. However, the numbers are actually broken into 4 different categories: Small Group (which, again, is merged with the individual market in MA); "ConnectorCare" individual market policies; subsidized Qualified Health Plans and unsubsidized QHPs.

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