California

OK, Covered California hasn't actually released an official press release or Open Enrollment Report, but I have acquired a single slide which was delivered at a university presentation by Covered CA head Peter Lee the other day. It doesn't provide tons of detail but give the most important toplines (the way the graph breaks out the numbers is a little confusing but I figured it out:

  • Total QHP selections from 11/01/20 - 1/31/21: 1.63 million, a record high for the state

This is a 5.9% increase year over year from the 2020 OEP's 1.54 million (it says 1.57 million on the graph but the official CMS tally is 1,538,819).

via Covered California:

  • The first major open-enrollment deadline is this week: Consumers who want their coverage to start on Jan. 1 need to sign up by Dec. 30.
  • The deadline comes as COVID-19 infections and deaths continue to rise across California, with hospitals overloaded with patients and limited ICU bed capacity.
  • Having health care coverage, staying COVID-safe and getting vaccinated when you are able to are critical to helping overcome the pandemic.
  • More than 1.2 million Californians are uninsured right now, even though they are eligible for financial help from Covered California, or low-cost or no-cost coverage through Medi-Cal.
  • Covered California’s open-enrollment period runs through Jan. 31.

Merry Christmas to those who celebrate! As a Jew, my Christmas Eve activity consists of...digging through the Covered California November Board of Directors monthly Executive Director's Report slideshow!

There's a bunch of useful wonky data stuff, but for purposes of this entry, it's slides 18 & 19 which are of particular interest. Most state-based ACA exchanges don't launch Open Enrollment until November 1st, but Covered California opens up re-enrollment for current members earlier. Usually they let current members renew for the upcoming year as early as October 15th, but this year they moved that up even sooner, to October 1st.

As a result, while they haven't put out any official press releases about it, as of November 16th, over 1.4 million of their ~1.5 million existing enrollees had already been re-enrolled for 2021. In addition, they had another 32,000 Californians sign up in the first two weeks of November.

It's turned into an annual tradition: The official annual ACA Open Enrollment Period (OEP) runs from November 1st - December 15th, but most of the state-based ACA exchanges have later deadlines. hThen, right around the 12/15 point, it begins: One by one, some of the state-based exchanges announce further extensions of their deadlines to #GetCovered for the upcoming year.

In some cases they simply bump out the deadline for coverage starting in January, with the final "hard" deadline for February or March coverage staying where it is. In other cases they were never allowing Open Enrollment start dates past January to begin with, so it's the hard deadline which is being extended.

In any event, here's this year's batch of announcements; note that this list could grow longer over the next week or two:

This letter was sent to CMS Administrator Seema Verma over the weekend by Peter Lee, Executive Director of Covered California:

Dear Administrator Verma:

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge across the nation, endangering Americans and filling our hospitals from coast to coast. In the middle of this rising crisis, nearly 80 percent of the health insurance marketplaces, including all of those supported by the federally facilitated exchange (FFE) and a small number of state-based exchanges, are set to close their open-enrollment periods on December 15th.

We are writing to recommend that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) extend the Healthcare.gov open-enrollment period through January 31st or, at a minimum through December 30th, to allow Americans more time to sign up for health care coverage during this pandemic.

via Covered California:

As COVID-19 Pandemic Surges Across the State, Covered California Takes the Unprecedented Step of Giving Consumers Until Dec. 30 to Sign up Up for Coverage that That Begins on Jan. 1

  • “Get Covered America Day” — Dec. 10 — is a call to wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and a public statement that you want your family and friends to get health insurance.
  • With COVID-19 cases surging nationally, the day is a call to action to encourage people to post a picture of themselves wearing a mask on social media, include a personal message about the importance of being COVID-safe and how friends, family and neighbors can get financial help for insurance now, sharing the website GetCovered2021.org and using the hashtag #GetCovered2021.
  • With an estimated 16 million uninsured Americans eligible for financial help — through their Affordable Care Act marketplace, or free coverage through Medicaid — Get Covered 2021 encourages people to check their health care options and get insured.
    • Physicians and health centers across the state announce they are reaching out personally to all their patients to encourage them to stay safe from COVID and get insurance coverage if they are eligible — many will receive Covered California’s masks to get the message out that now is the time to get covered and stay covered.
    • California’s leading provider organizations — including the California Hospital Association, California Medical Association, California Academy of Family Physicians, the California Primary Care Association and America’s Medical Groups — are making sure the trusted voice of physicians and other health care heroes are speaking to millions of Californians with the message of remaining vigilant until the vaccine arrives.
    • According to a survey conducted by Covered California, the pandemic continues to touch most Californians, finding that 52 percent of Californians say the pandemic has affected their lives significantly, more than 40 percent personally know someone who has tested positive for the virus, and more than one in four people knows someone who has died from COVID-19.

      NATIONAL COALITION LAUNCHES “GET COVERED 2021” URGING AMERICA TO MASK UP AND GET INSURED – FOCUS ON COVID AND COVERAGE FOR 16 MILLION AMERICANS ELIGIBLE FOR FINANCIAL HELP NOW

      • “Get Covered” is a call to wear a mask to prevent the spread of COVID as well as a public statement that you want your family and friends to get health insurance.
      • COVID underscores why insurance matters - but not just because of the pandemic - coverage can help people stay healthy and provide a pathway to care for diseases like cancer, diabetes, and many others that impact people’s lives.
      • Get Covered 2021 will focus on getting the estimated 16 million uninsured people across America eligible for financial help – through their Affordable Care Act marketplace, or free coverage through Medicaid – insurance coverage now.
      • The Get Covered 2021 coalition announced that December 10th will be Get Covered America Day -- a day of action where everyone will be encouraged to keep wearing their mask and post a picture of themselves on social media, including a personal message about how friends, family and neighbors can get financial help for insurance now, sharing the website GetCovered2021.org and using the hashtag #GetCovered2021.

      The timing of this press release is a little odd; it came out on November 9th, even though the 2021 ACA Open Enrollment Period actually launched on November 1st. In fact, in California specifically, they've been allowing existing enrollees to actively renew/re-enroll for 2021 since October 1st!

      Given the insanity of this year's Presidential election on November 3rd, along with the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, I can hardly blame CoveredCA for the delay, however; after all, this is the first Open Enrollment update I've posted since it kicked off on Nov. 1st as well...

      Anyway, via the Covered California newsroom:

      Covered California Officially Launches Open Enrollment with Millions of Masks to Encourage Californians to “Get Covered/Stay Covered” and a New Ad Campaign

      A week or so ago I noted that California's ACA exchange, CoveredCA, issued a press release which included several important items:

      • First, CA's Small Group Market premiums are increasing by just 1.5% in 2021 (the lowest average increase since the ACA passed)
      • Second, CA's Individual Market premiums are increasing by just 0.6% on average in 2021 (identical to the preliminary rate requests)
      • Third, that Open Enrollment technically already started back on October 1st...sort of.

      The official launch of Open Enrollment in every state isn't until November 1st, but for the past couple of years California has allowed current enrollees already in their system to actively renew/re-enroll for the upcoming year starting on October 15th. This year, it turns out they quietly moved that date back even earlier--current enrollees have been able to re-enroll starting as early as October 1st! I don't recall them ever making a big public announcement about this; I sort of stumbled upon it by accident.

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