COVID19

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:

COVID-19 Vaccine

Today I'm looking at county-level U.S. vaccination rates via two other factors: Income and Education.

For Income, I'm using the USDA Economic Research Service's estimate of Median Household Income from 2019 (which was, of course, the last year before COVID-19 hit the U.S. in the first place).

The lowest countywide median household income in 2019 was around $25,000/year (Clay County, Georgia); the highest was roughly $152,000/year (Loudoun County, Virginia):

COVID-19 Vaccine

One of the biggest criticisms I've received with my county-level vaccination level project is that I haven't taken into account a rather obvious truth about the partisan divide in America: Democrats tend to cluster in much more densely-populated urban areas while Republicans tend to live in more sparsely-populated rural areas.

In addition, regardless of your political lean, you might expect it to be a lot more difficult to get vaccinated if you live out in the middle of the boonies where the nearest hospital, clinic or pharmacy is 50 miles away or whatever...not to mention that if you're the only one for miles around, you might be less likely to see getting vaccinated as a high-priority task regardless of your ideology.

Therefore, the reasoning goes, instead of looking at the partisan lean of each county, it would make much more sense to see how much correlation there is based on population density or whether it's a more urban or rural region, right?

Fair enough. I decided to do just that:

COVID-19 Vaccine

I was planning on only updating the county-level vaccination graph monthly, but given the attention this has received via high-profile folks like David Frum and Paul Krugman, I've decided to post updates weekly.

With the more aggressive Delta variant now spreading quickly among the unvaccinated in the U.S., 85% of the total population seems to indeed be the more likely threshold which will be needed to achieve herd immunity.

As a reminder:

COVID-19 Vaccine

A few weeks ago I posted a look at the county-level COVID-19 vaccination rate outliers...the counties which don't fit the main pattern of heavily-Trump counties having low vaccination rates and heavily-Biden counties having high vaccination rates.

At the time, I sliced all 3,100+ counties across all 50 states + DC into 9 regions based on a 3x3 grid:

  • Vaccination rates: Under 40%, 40-60%, over 60%
  • Trump 2020 vote: Under 40%, 40-60%, over 60%

I then dug deeper into two of these: Low-Trump/Low-Vaxx counties and High-Trump/High-Vaxx counties.

I found 77 counties in the first category...the population in 62 of which is more than 40% Black (and another 7 are majority Native American).

At the opposite corner, there were only 4 counties...one of which includes The Villages, the massive, MAGA retirement community. I didn't have much insight into the other 3.

COVID-19 Vaccine

I was planning on only updating the county-level vaccination graph monthly, but given the attention this has received via high-profile folks like David Frum and Paul Krugman, I've decided to post updates weekly.

With the more aggressive Delta variant now spreading quickly among the unvaccinated in the U.S., 85% of the total population seems to indeed be the more likely threshold which will be needed to achieve herd immunity.

As a reminder:

HealthCare.Gov Logo

The previous CMS Special Enrollment Period report put the HC.gov total at 1.24 million via HC.gov as of the end of May, slightly exceeding my own projection. In addition, I had already confirmed at least 400,000 additional SEP enrollments via the 15 state-based ACA exchanges, for a total of at least 1.6 million nationally as of the end of May.

I didn't make any specific projection for the end of June as I've been swamped with my COVID vaccination tracking project, though I generally expected the enrollment pace to drop off significantly (anyone enrolling in June didn't have their policy kick in until July 1st, meaning their deductible & out-of-pocket cap would be the same even though they're only getting 6 months to use them up). Several hundred thousand more was a reasonable assumption, which would probably bring the national total up to somewhere in the 2 million range.

COVID-19 Vaccine

It's been a week since I last ran a scatter plot displaying current COVID-19 vaccination rates across every COUNTY nationwide according to the 2020 election results...all 3,100+ of them.

As I noted last week, with the more aggressive Delta variant now spreading quickly among the unvaccinated in the U.S., 85% of the total population seems to indeed be the more likely threshold which will be needed.

For the updated graph below, I've made a few more tweaks to both my data sources and the graph itself, neither of which makes that much of a difference in terms of impact on the final results:

Connect for Health Colorado Logo

This just in from Connect for Health Colorado...

Colorado's Health Insurance Marketplace Maintains Enrollment Momentum

  • There's still time to enroll

DENVER – As of Wednesday, July 7, 205,813 Coloradans have signed up for a plan that provides coverage this year through Connect for Health Colorado. That’s an additional 5,000 enrollments since last month when Connect for Health Colorado announced its Marketplace had reached a historic enrollment milestone for the 2021 plan year.

That's actually 5,694 more enrollees since June 7th, although they may be knocking it down a bit to account for attrition/etc. That amounts to 190 additional enrollees per day, which is actually up from the ~167/day which Colorado had been averaging from May through June. Huh.

Surprise!

 

Last winter, after years of bipartisan attempts to tackle one of the uglier problems with the U.S. healthcare system, Congress somehow ended up quietly slipping in a bill which resolved a large chunk of the issue with minimal fanfare:

Over at the New York Times, Sarah Kliff and Margot Sanger-Katz have written an excellent summary of the problem and the proposed solution:

Surprise bills happen when an out-of-network provider is unexpectedly involved in a patient’s care. Patients go to a hospital that accepts their insurance, for example, but get treated there by an emergency room physician who doesn’t. Such doctors often bill those patients for large fees, far higher than what health plans typically pay.

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