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.
Covered California Logo

via Covered California:

  • An estimated 138,000 Californians face significantly higher health insurance premiums when their federal COBRA subsidies come to an end on Sept. 30.
  • Covered California opened a special-enrollment period to give eligible COBRA recipients an opportunity to switch their coverage and potentially save hundreds of dollars a month on their health insurance.
  • Many of those consumers will be able to stay with their same brand-name insurance company when they switch to Covered California.
  • People who sign up by Sept. 30 will have their coverage start on Oct. 1.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Covered California announced a special-enrollment period for Californians who will soon be losing the federal financial help that is allowing them to continue receiving health insurance through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, better known as COBRA. Under one provision of the American Rescue Plan, Californians have been eligible for financial help that pays 100 percent of their COBRA premiums from April 1 through Sept. 30.

Class Action Movie

 

As I've been arguing for well over a year now, the COVID-19 pandemic was utterly politicized by the Trump Administration right from the start...and the vaccination effort has similarly been completely politicized by the Republican Party since the moment President Biden took office as well.

Aside from the massive public health fallout, this fact has all sorts of poltiical implications as well, of course. Most of those involve pundits speculating about "the blame game" and so on; will voters in states like Florida and Texas blame their governors for doing everything possible to stymie reasonable pandemic safety measures such as mask mandates, or will they blame the Biden Administration for...I don't know, not tying people to a chair and manually forcing the COVID vaccine into their arms?

For weeks now, however, people have been asking me an even more basic, crass question about the impact of political tribalism on the 2022 midterm election:

Florida

For the past couple of months now, most of my COVID scatter-plot charts...whether measuring vaccination rates, new case rates or new death rates...have been based primarily on partisan lean. That is, at both the state and county levels, I've been using the percent of the 2020 Presidential vote won by Donald Trump as the basis for comparison.

I've also looked at vaccination rates by other criteria, of course: Population density, urban vs. rural status, education level and median household income levels...but none of these have had nearly as high a correlation as sheer partisan lean has (although I haven't checked any of those in over a month; perhaps the situation has changed by now).

Washington HealthPlan Finder

A couple of years ago, Washington became the first state to implement their own "Public Option" ACA healthcare plan...sort of. The actual version of the PO which was implemented ended up being considerably less impressive than the original vision, but hey, it was a start.

However, the same legislation which created the "Cascade Care" program also included another provision which was noteworthy at the time:

COVID-19

I've gotten a lot of attention for my COVID "scatter plot bubble graphs" over the summer, laying out the COVID vaccination and case/death rates across every county nationally (well, mostly; Nebraska has stopped posting county-level data entirely, and Florida has only been posting county-level case data, not deaths, since June).

Data visualization is a tricky thing, though; sometimes line graphs are the way to go (that's what I did last year); other times scatter plots are more appropriate. But some people don't "get" either of these, so today let's look at some bar graphs.

Washington HealthPlan Finder

This just in from the Washington Health Benefit Exchange...

Record Numbers of Washingtonians Sign Up for Health Care Coverage During 2021 Special Enrollment Period

  • LATEST DATA SHOWS IMPACT OF AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT SAVINGS. NEARLY HALF OF ALL CUSTOMERS PAY LESS THAN $100 PER MONTH.

Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange) announced on Tuesday more than 57,000 Washingtonians signed up for health care coverage between February 15 and August 15 on the state’s insurance marketplace, Washington Healthplanfinder. The Exchange opened a Special Enrollment Period in February in response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. This allowed any individual in Washington the opportunity to apply for coverage or compare and upgrade their existing insurance.

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.
  • NEW: I discovered that there's several additional states where the state health department dashboard data seems to be more comprehensive and accurate than the CDC data, including Illinois, Minnesota and North Carolina. I've switched to these states health department reports starting today.
  • 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.
Kansas

(sigh) Once again, the Kansas Insurance Dept. is supremely unhelpful when it comes to providing information about individual & small group market health insurance premium rate changes. Not only are the ACA plans not listed in the state's SERFF database or on the department's website, even the actuarial memos available at the federal Rate Review website are heavily redacted. As a result, I only have the actual enrollment numbers for a handful of carriers, preventing me from being able to calculate a weighted average (or to estimate the state's total ACA enrollment size, for that matter).

The unweighted average rate increase on Kansas' individual market is +8.3%, and it's +5.6% for the small group market, anyway.

It's worth noting that Sunflower State seems to be leaving the individual market and UnitedHealthcare appears to be dropping out of the Kansas small group market next year.

Iowa

(sigh) Unfortunately, the Iowa Insurance Department is pretty much useless when it comes to individual & small group market rate filing transparency. I can't find any press releases or statements about the 2022 rate filings, they don't list the 2022 Individual market filings at all, their Small Group market filing database is available but a year out of date, and they don't even list any of the ACA-compliant plan filings in the SERFF database.

The only way I was able to find the rate changes was by using the federal Rate Review website, and even then, the actuarial memos are all heavily redacted, making it impossible to know what the enrollment for each carrier si (with one exception: Wellmark Health Plan reported having 32,000 ACA-compliant individual market enrollees as of March 2021).

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