APTC

Get Covered 2021!

As of midnight on August 15th, the Big Deadline for the 2021 "No Excuse Needed" ACA Special Enrollment Period has come and gone in most states.

HOWEVER, you can still #GetCovered for the rest of 2021 in a few states (including two of the largest ones), and there are still millions of uninsured Americans nationally who are eligible for ACA-compliant coverage for the rest of this year via other options. Let's review!

2021 ACA Special Enrollment Period (SEP): If you live in California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York or Vermont, the deadline for the "no questions asked" SEP goes beyond 8/15. In CA, DC & NY it actually runs through the end of the year!

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Thanks to Amy Lotven of Inside Health Politics for the heads up:

CMS Thursday (July 15) announced a new advertising campaign that will run in the final 30 days of the special enrollment period slated to end Aug. 15, and the agency also confirmed Inside Health Policy’sreport that the agency plans to auto-adjust tax credits for consumers who do not return to the federal marketplace starting Sept. 1.

Sure enough, this press release was put out by CMS earlier today:

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Earlier today, Greg Fann asked a fair question:

Any data on % of exchange enrollees receiving subsidies after ARP? It was ~87% pre-ARP. Also suspect many off-exchange enrollees are moving on-exchange mid-year 2021. @charles_gaba @xpostfactoid @bjdickmayhew @LouiseNorris @larry_levitt @cynthiaccox

— Greg Fann (@greg_fann) May 12, 2021

Several fellow health wonks have chimed in. I spitballed perhaps 95%. Fann puts it at 96-97%. Cynthia Cox of the Kaiser Family Foundation thinks it could be even higher:

A few weeks ago, I noted that one of the numerous ACA-related provisions of the American Rescue Plan was this one:

Put simply, subsidized enrollees last year received around $6.3 billion in "excess subsidies"...they underestimated their income for the year 2020 and would normally be required to pay them back, but the ARP is waiving that "clawback" of overpayments for one year only in response to the pandemic.

Again, these are subsidies which were already paid out in 2020. The money is already in the hands of the enrollees (well, technically it's in the hands of the insurance carriers, but that in turn freed up an equal amount in the bank accounts of the enrollees, anyway). This provision simply says that the enrollees don't have to pay it back.

Back in January, I posted a story about the ACA subsidy improvements to be included in the then-pending American Rescue Plan (ARP). At the time, I noted what seemed to be a pretty big scoop:

...there's also another small but critical detail included in the table above which escaped my attention last summer in H.R. 1425.

Take a look at the first line of Rep. Underwood's 2019 version (H.R 1868):

  • Over 100.0 percent up to 133.0 percent

Now take a look at the first line under both H.R. 1425 and H.R. 369:

  • Up to 150.0 percent

Notice the difference? I'm not talking about the "up to 150%" part. I'm talking about the removal of the "Over 100.0 percent" part.

If this were to pass the House & Senate and be signed into law by President Biden using this exact language, it would apparently eliminate the Medicaid Gap...albeit with a couple of major caveats.

The Kaiser Family Foundation has updated their estimated breakout of the entire uninsured population of the United States as of 2019, and what sort of healthcare coverage they're eligible for thanks to the Affordable Care Act and the American Rescue Plan's expanded/enhanced subsidies.

Obviously a lot has changed since then, primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but I presume this is the most recent comprehensive, reliable data they've been able to compile:

Note: A few weeks ago, I ran a rough back-of-the-envelope extrapolation of partial data from the first 2 weeks of the ongoing COVID Special Enrollment Period and concluded that IF enrollment via the 36 HealthCare.Gov states was representative nationally, and IF the pace of the last 2 weeks of February held perfectly steady, it would mean around 666,000 new enrollees via HC.gov and 832,000 nationally by the end of March. Those were two pretty big caveats, of course, and as you'll see below, the reality wasn't quite as eyebrow-raising, though it's still pretty impressive.

This just in via the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS):

2021 Marketplace Special Enrollment Period Report

February 15 – March 31, 2021

American Rescue Plan Savings - Family of 4

Last month I posted an explainer with a bunch of colorful graphs & charts explaining how much various households could save thanks to the expanded/enhanced ACA subsidies included with the American Rescue Plan. I included 8 different households, using the national average ACA benchmark plan premium for 2021:

  • Single Adults age 26, 40, 50 and 64
  • Single Parent; Nuclear Family; Empty Nesters w/College-age kid; 60-yr old couple

Here's how much the "Nuclear Family of four" example (40-yr old ocuple with 2 children) would theoretically save, assuming they choose the avg. national benchmark Silver plan:

 

A couple of weeks ago I went on a bit of a rant about some terribly irresponsible reporting about how much the American Rescue Plan is spending on subsidizing private health insurance and how many people that money is expected to provide insurance premium assistance for.

The bottom line is that a whole lot of people got both the numerator and denominator wrong: Instead of being ~$53 billion to cover ~1.3 million people (which would be an insane $40,000 per person for just six months), it's actually more like ~$61 billion to help cover ~18.6 million people (roughly $3,300 per person per year on average).

The main focus of the post was about how much/how many would be covered under COBRA (the Consolidated Omnibus Budet Reconciliation Act):

June 16, 2020:

On March 20th, the Vermont Health Connect ACA exchange joined other state-based exchanges in launching a formal COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period.

On April 15th, just ahead of the original SEP deadline, they bumped it out by a month.

Then, with the May deadline approaching, I took a look and sure enough, they've bumped it out another month.

And now, with the June deadline having come and gone...

Due to the COVID-19 emergency, Vermont Health Connect has opened a Special Enrollment Period until August 14, 2020.

I admit that this is starting to get a bit silly. At a certain point I'm guessing at least one of the state exchanges will just say "screw it" and open 2020 enrollment up for the full year.

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