Yes, that's right...ACA Signups is back in action!
Well...sort of. I'm able to post a couple of updates here and there, but don't expect anything major until next week. The swelling in my right eye has dropped significantly, allowing me to read and type for perhaps 20 minutes at a time, and I'm back on (semi) solid food...thick soups and the like.
With that in mind, I'm gonna try and cut down on the backlog of updates sent in this week...and you'd be amazed at how much is still going on even after the extension period elapsed 10 days ago...
I also wanted to thank everyone for the well-wishes and words of support.
And no, the irony of the situation is not lost on me: I'm taking my brand-new ACA-approved healthcare policy through a thorough workout this month, by subjecting myself to 3 different doctor's appointments (well, technically 4 if you include the dentist, but that's not covered by the policy, of course): Once to my GP, and two more to the Ophthalmologist (once last week to make sure the virus didn't infect my eyeball itself, and a follow-up next week to make sure it didn't seep into the eyeball later in the process).
Not that this is particularly surprising after my prior post, but yes, I've been diagnosed with a nasty case of Shingles. That would be bad enough, but making it worse is that it's on my face (usually it's on the torso), meaning that my right eyelid is swollen over, making it very difficult to see, read or type more than a few sentences at a time.
As a result, I probably won't be able to post any more updates at all for a few days, which will likely mean a bunch of them posted all at once this weekend (or whenever the swelling goes down).
Please do keep sending updates in, however; I'll just flag them for later reference.
Shingles is most common in older adults and people who have weak immune systems because of stress, injury, certain medicines, or other reasons. Most people who get shingles will get better and will not get it again.
Shingles occurs when the virus that causes chickenpox starts up again in your body. After you get better from chickenpox, the virus "sleeps" (is dormant) in your nerve roots. In some people, it stays dormant forever. In others, the virus "wakes up" when disease, stress, or aging weakens the immune system. Some medicines may trigger the virus to wake up and cause a shingles rash. It is not clear why this happens. But after the virus becomes active again, it can only cause shingles, not chickenpox.
You can't catch shingles from someone else who has shingles. But there is a small chance that a person with a shingles rash can spread the virus to another person who hasn't had chickenpox and who hasn't gotten the chickenpox vaccine.
Shingles symptoms happen in stages. At first you may have a headache or be sensitive to light. You may also feel like you have the flu but not have a fever.
This naturally raised the question of whether the main Federal exchange website, Healthcare.gov, was also vulnerable. I checked the site the day that the Heartbleed story went public last Wednesday and it did not show up as being vulnerable. In addition, on that same day Mashable reported that HC.gov was NOT one of the major sites impactedby the bug.
However, just to be certain (and because, frankly, it's a good idea to reset your password every six months or so anyway), the HHS Dept. has taken the precaution of doing a batch password reset for every account on the site:
It seems a bit odd to me that Maryland is issuing a formal press release today when their extension period doesn't end until tonight or tomorrow (why leave a couple days of stragglers?), but whatever; the increase in exchange QHPs from 4/09 to 4/14 was only 1,017, so I guess they figure that it won't be more than a few hundred from 4/15 - 4/18 anyway.
In any event, they say they aren't issuing any more updates until mid-May, so for all practical purposes, this closes the books on Maryland for now:
Please note, we will begin reporting on a monthly basis, on the third Friday of each month. Our next report will be May 16, 2014.
As of April 15, 2014, 262,619 individuals have gained Medicaid coverage in 2014 and remain active in Medicaid. This includes the 95,889 PAC enrollees who were automatically converted on January 1, 2014 to full Medicaid coverage.
As of April 14, 2014, 66,203 individuals have enrolled in a qualified health plan.
OK, now that we're past the April 15 cut-off period, I can close the books for 2014 enrollments, right?
Well, no. As I've noted many times before, Medicaid enrollments and SHOP (Small Business) enrollments are year-round; there's no deadline for those.
OK...but what about Exchange QHPs? Surely those are shut down for the year, right?
Well, no. Again, as I've noted before, the appx. 5 million Native Americans in the U.S. don't have a deadline, and of course anyone can still enroll or change plans if they have a Qualifying Life Event such as having a baby, getting married/divorced, losing their job, moving to a different state and so on.
OK...but what about everyone else? April 15th was the deadline, right?
Well, no. Here's a roundup of the state-by-state deadlines (which have been changing every day, but seem to have finally settled down for real):
According to a new policy paper by the UC Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education, it is likely that up to half of California’s Exchange Enrollees will not be enrolled in their current Quality Health Plan’s (or QHP’s) by the end of the first year of the exchanges existence. This is due to a myriad of life factors allowing consumers to drop these plans for other policies afforded to them by their spouses, employers, or other government insurance providers (Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare etc.)
Today was filled with fantastic news across the board. Theonly bummer is that the actual HHS report for March (and the first half of April?), with the state-by-state breakdown, was not released today.
So, you know what? I'm so geeked about the 4/15 total actually breaking the big 8M mark after all that I'm going to attempt to estimate the state-by-state totals for every state which hasn't published their official 4/15 total yet myself.
This may sound insane, but it's not as difficult as you may think (well, it's not difficult to do; that doesn't mean that I'll be accurate).
First of all, I can obviously eliminate any state which has already released their data through 4/15. That gets rid of California, Colorado, Connecticut, DC, Minnesota, Nevada, New York and Oregon.
I can also eliminated Washington State, since they never participated in the expansion period (they may have a few hundred stragglers via "special case-by-case basis" but that should be about it.
The wording of the story makes it look like MA's exchange QHP total dropped by over 6K, but in fact they had only reported 12,965 to HHS as of March 1st, so this still represents a slight increase over the last number entered on 4/02 (29,720):
Unsubsidized enrollment in exchange plans fell to 29,775 April 8, from 36,060 Dec. 1, 2013, when the state had its own, homegrown exchange plan program in place. The exchange is planning to conduct a survey to learn why enrollment fell.
deaconblues, ever detail-oriented, also made sure to find the subsidized number of QHP enrollees as well: 769
This number out of NC is a bit squirrelly; I'm not updating the actual spreadsheet with it, but it's still worth at least mentioning:
Overall, Terrell said, the state has received 95,000 Medicaid applications via the federal ACA sign-up, representing 132,000 people, since October 2013. And that number is likely to grow.
The number of people added to Medicaid/CHIP in NC thru 3/01 via the HC.gov site was 55,691, so this could potentially be a more than 2.3x increase, but they're noted as applications, so presumably some of them will be denied. Still impressive.
Connecticut officially didn't have an extension period, but they did allow late enrollments on a "special case" basis, which apparently amounted to about 5,000 more people:
A total of 208,301 Connecticut residents enrolled in health care coverage through the Access Health CT online marketplace as of Sunday, the quasi-public agency announced Thursday.
The numbers reflect those who signed up before the March 31 deadline for open enrollment, plus 5,000 people who attempted to enroll by that date but encountered some difficulty, but were able to enroll over the last two weeks.
“Over the past two weeks, our team has made follow up calls to each of those individuals to assist them through the enrollment process, and we have now completed all open enrollment applications,” Kevin Counihan, head of the agency created as the state’s response to the federal Affordable Care Act, said in a news release.
Of the 208,301 enrollees, 78,713 enrolled with a private insurance carrier and 129,588 enrolled in Medicaid. Of the 78,713 residents who enrolled with a private insurance carrier, 78 percent received a tax subsidy and 22 percent did not.
Colorado issued a rough update the other day ("over 124K"), but they gave the official 4/15 tally today:
Exchange-based Commercial Health Insurance (QHPs): 127,233
New Medicaid Enrollees: 178,508
Oh, by the way: The "over 124K" press release issued on the 14th was a big part of the reason why I downshifted my total projection from the 7.9-8.0M range down to around 7.78M a few days back. I assumed that the only reason they would issue a number press release the day before the deadline would be if the enrollments were tapering off so much that there would only be a handful left to count on the final day.
Obviously I was wrong; CO managed to add another 3K QHPs on the last day.