Just over a year ago, 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.

MNsure Logo

via MNsure:

Don’t Miss Out! MNsure’s Open Enrollment Period Ending Soon

ST. PAUL, Minn.—Minnesotans looking for private health insurance have until Saturday, January 15, to enroll in coverage through MNsure, the state’s health insurance exchange. Minnesotans who enroll by the January 15 deadline will have coverage starting on February 1, 2022.

“Don’t miss out on your chance to get comprehensive health insurance in 2022,” said MNsure CEO Nate Clark. “This year there are more opportunities than ever before to get savings that can lower the monthly cost of your health insurance. Visit to find a plan that works for you.”

Most Minnesotans – including families with middle incomes – qualify for advanced premium tax credits that instantly lower the monthly cost of health insurance. Access to these savings is only available through MNsure.

Need help getting started?

Connect for Health Colorado Logo

via Connect for Health Colorado:

Connect for Health Colorado Reports More Than 185,000 Health Insurance Sign Ups So Far

  • January 15 is the deadline to enroll for 2022 coverage

DENVER – As of January 1st, more than 185,000 Coloradans have signed up for a health insurance plan through Connect for Health Colorado during the annual enrollment period. This is an eight percent increase over the same time frame last year and exceeds last year’s end of Open Enrollment total of 179,661 sign ups.

That means Colorado is already up 3% over last year's final total OEP enrollment with 11 days left to go.

But there is still time to enroll. With the January 15, 2022 enrollment deadline approaching, Coloradans have less than two weeks left to choose a plan for coverage that will start February 1st.

Cover ME Logo

This just in via, Maine's new state-based ACA exchange:

More Than 65,000 Maine People Choose Affordable Health Plans on

  • Plan selections strongly outpace the previous Open Enrollment period with two weeks remaining; 80 percent of consumers qualify for financial help, with average monthly savings of $518

AUGUSTA— Governor Janet Mills announced today that 65,005 Maine people have selected plans for affordable health coverage in 2022 during the open enrollment period now underway on, Maine’s new state-run Health Insurance Marketplace, strongly outpacing activity during the prior open enrollment period.

COVID-19 Vaccine

via Laurie McGinley of the Washington Post:

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday authorized booster shots of the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine for 12- to 15-year-olds, an effort to bolster protection as schools reopen amid a surge of infections caused by the omicron variant.

The agency also cleared booster shots for children 5 to 11 with compromised immune systems. And it said anyone eligible for a booster could get the shot five months after receiving the second Pfizer-BioNTech shot, down from six months.

The FDA actions are expected to be reviewed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its panel of outside vaccine advisers this week. Assuming the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which is scheduled to meet Wednesday, signs off on the additional shots, CDC director Rochelle Walensky is expected to officially recommend them later that day.


Here's the weekly look at the rate of COVID-19 cases & deaths at the county level since the end of June, broken out by partisan lean (i.e, what percent of the vote Donald Trump received in 2020).

As always:

The partisan ratio of case rates are now only running 1.6x higher per capita in the reddest tenth of the country than the bluest tenth, down from 3.0x higher in late October, 2.4x higher two weeks ago and 2.0x higher just a week ago, reflecting how contagious the Omicron variant is in terms of infecting people even if they're fully vaccinated (death rates are clearly a very different story, however, as you'll see below):

Access Health CT Logo

Via Access Health CT's News/Press Releases page:

Stats as of December 30, 2021

Qualified Health Plans (QHP):

  • QHP Enrollment In 2022 Coverage: 106,390
  • 2022 OE Acquisition Summary: 14,142


  • Completed applications/redeterminations processed through the integrated eligibility system: 18,856

I'm not entirely sure what the 18,856 figure refers to, but I've confirmed that it's already included in the larger number.

Last year's final OEP enrollment tally for Connecticut was 104,946 QHP selections, which they're now 1.4% ahead of...with over 2 weeks left for CT residents to get covered (they have until New Year's Eve to enroll for coverage starting January 1st, and from January 1st - January 15th for coverage starting February 1st).


UPDATE: Quite a few people are telling me that I'm being too conservative in my assumptions below, and they make a very good case based on the anti-mask and anti-vaxx mindset among Republicans, Trump voters tendency to be older than Biden voters and so forth. I AGREE WITH ALL OF THIS. I'm still trying to be as cautious/conservative as possible, however, because this is a very ugly & touchy subject and because there are still a lot of unknowns.

As I note below, even in a heavily Trump-leaning county, the bulk of the COVID deaths could be among Biden voters. It's not likely but it's possible and I'm trying to keep that in mind here.

New York State of Health

via NY State of Health:

  • Certified Enrollment Assistors Will Be On-site at Select Farmers Markets During 2022 Open Enrollment Period
  • Expanded financial help available for 2022 health plans

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 27, 2021) – NY State of Health, the state’s official health plan Marketplace, today announced it is once again partnering with the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets in an effort to educate shoppers at farmers markets throughout New York State about low-cost, high quality health coverage during the 2022 Open Enrollment Period. Certified Enrollment Assistors will be on-site at various markets from January 1 through January 31, 2022.

Washington HealthPlan Finder

via the Washington HealthPlan Finder:

Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) reports that as of Dec. 24, over 230,000 customers have signed up for health coverage for 2022, an increase of 7% over last year. That number includes nearly 30,000 new customers who have signed up so far this year. Washingtonians still looking for 2022 coverage have until the final open enrollment deadline of Jan. 15 to sign up through Washington Healthplanfinder, the online marketplace operated by the Exchange.

Not only is 230K up 7% over the same point last year, it's already up 3.3% over last year's final OEP enrollment total (222,731 QHP selections). They'll have to add at least 13,300 more between now and January 15th in order to beat the state's all-time record set in 2018, however.