Charles Gaba's blog

3/22/17: Now that the GOP is apparently going to try and cram through killing off Essential Health Benefits and so forth in the #Trumpcare bill after all, it seems like a good time to repost this.

For years now, the Holy Grail of healthcare policy for progressives has been Universal Coverage (UC): Every single person receiving guaranteed, comprehensive, quality, affordable healthcare coverage. For most progressives, the means for paying for universal coverage is envisioned as a Single Payer (SP) system...which simply means that people pay taxes to the federal government, which in turn pays the medical bills to doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers (note that neither UC nor SP have anything to do with Socialized Medicine (SM), in which all of the doctors/hospitals work for & are controlled directly by the government).

From Kevin Counihan, CEO of the Health Insurance Marketplace:

“Millions of Americans have already signed up for coverage and tens of thousands more are in the process of getting coverage today. As we did last year, because of extraordinary volume of consumers contacting our call center or visiting HealthCare.gov, we are extending the deadline to sign-up for January 1 coverage until 11:59pm PST December 19Nearly a million consumers have left their contact information to hold their place in line.  Our goal is to provide affordable coverage to everyone seeking it before the deadline, and these two additional business days will give consumers an opportunity to come back and complete their enrollment for January 1 coverage.”

UPDATE: OK, I've confirmed that this is in fact a full 4-day deadline extension, so anyone can still sign up by Monday at midnight.

As I said a little while ago, until yesterday, I honestly wasn't expecting any of the exchanges to deviate from their official enrollment deadlines this year. Each year there've been fewer and fewer extensions, "overtime periods" and so forth allowed, as more and more people get used to how the system works and especially as the exchange websites become more streamlined & less buggy, with beefed-up sever capacity and so forth.

This afternoon, however...

And New York makes it three:

NY State of Health Deadline Extended! New Yorkers Now Have Until December 17 to Enroll in or Renew Health Insurance Coverage Beginning January 1, 2017

High Enrollment Activity Prompts Deadline Extension

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 15, 2016) - NY State of Health, the state’s official health plan Marketplace today announced that the deadline to enroll or renew coverage for a health plan effective January 1 has been extended through December 17. The previous deadline was December 15. Consumers have two additional days to enroll in a plan with coverage starting January 1.

“NY State of Health is having the busiest open enrollment period yet and we want consumers to have a little more time to select a health plan for January 1, 2017.” said NY State of Health Executive Director, Donna Frescatore.

I'm genuinely surprised by this. While deadline extensions and "overtime periods" were all the rage during the first two Open Enrollment Periods, there were only a handful of states which bumped their deadlines out last year, and I was honestly expecting every state to stick with their original dates this time around.

Instead, yesterday Covered California announced a 2-day extension of their enrollment deadline for coverage starting in January; today, the Connecticut exchange announced the same:

LT. GOV. WYMAN, ACCESS HEALTH CT CEO JIM WADLEIGH, ANNOUNCE OPEN ENROLLMENT EXTENSION

Consumers Have Until December 17, 2016 to Enroll in Healthcare Coverage That Begins on January 1, 2017

12/20/16: Updated w/newer data

I've noted several times that while the total enrollments so far have been tracking my pre-election projections almost perfectly, the drop-off in new enrollments suggest potential trouble ahead. That is, the main reason the overall enrollment numbers are at or even ahead of my expectations so far is because more current enrollees are actively renewing their policies earlier, cancelling out the smaller number of new enrollees signing up. Obviously once those current renewals dry up (which will mostly happen this week), the rest of the enrollment period can't count on that any further.

Let's take a look at the new enrollees I've confirmed so far:

In yesterday's state-by-state roundup, I noted that there are 4 states where I didn't have any enrollment data whatsoever yet (ID, NY, VT & WA), plus only very limited numbers out of DC. Today, the Washington HealthPlanFinder scratched one of those off the list by providing the following update:

Since the start of open enrollment on Nov. 1, more than 160,000 individuals and families have already signed up for Qualified Health Plans (QHP) through Washington Healthplanfinder. The updated total reflects an increase of more than 20,000 QHP selections over the same point in the open enrollment period last year. In addition to 2017 QHP selections, more than 22,000 Washingtonians have signed up for Qualified Dental Plans (QDP) that are now offered through Washington Healthplanfinder.

Hmmm...the Colorado exchange hasn't issued an official enrollment update since the end of November, when it stood at 37,142 QHPs.

Today, in an article about the overall national numbers (mainly noting today's Week 5/6 Snapshot report), Kimberly Leonard of U.S. News & World Report cited a number I haven't seen elsewhere; I presume she simply called up the exchange directly. It seems about right to me:

Open enrollment began a week before Election Day, and several states reported that they didn't begin running ads until after that, saying they didn't want to compete with the attention the election was getting and noting that space sold during that time was particularly expensive.

That was the choice for Colorado, where enrollment is 16.3 percent higher than last year, totalling 50,207 people.

In addition, Leonard provides a couple of quick updates/corrections for some other states:

  • Residents of MASSACHUSETTS, RHODE ISLAND and WASHINGTON STATE still have until midnight on Friday, December 23rd to enroll for January coverage.
  • Residents of 47 States + DC have until Sunday, January 15th to enroll for February coverage.
  • Residents of MA, RI & WA have until Monday, January 23rd to enroll for February coverage.
  • Residents of all 50 states + DC have until Tuesday, January 31st to enroll for March coverage.

12/15/16: Updated w/Washington State data

As I noted after the 11/26 data was released, some key notes:

  • Most states are as of 12/10/16 (officially the end of the 6th week, even though it's "short" 2 days due to November starting on a Tuesday this year)
  • The red vertical line is where I expected each state to be as of 12/10/16...around 38% of where I project their final projected enrollments to be as of 1/31/17
  • For purposes of this graph, I'm defining "ahead" or "behind" as being plus or minus 2 percentage points.
  • South Dakota, Hawaii, Minnesota, Utah, Nebraska, Oregon, Wyoming, Wisconsin, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Montana and Alabama are significantly ahead of where I expected them to be at this point.
  • On the other hand, New Hampshire, Michigan, Alaska, Georgia, Indiana, Texas, Arkansas, Colorado, Mississippi and especially Louisiana are all significantly behind so far.

Important Caveats:

Pages