The February HHS Report included some especially confusing numbers out of the two largest state-run exchanges, California and New York, as both seemed shockingly low given how successful they both seemed to be doing in the first half of the month.
In the case of California, they were kicking serious ass in the first half of February, averaging around 7,200 QHP enrollments per day. Unfortunately, a few days later the CoveredCA exchange was hit with a very nasty technical problem which brought things to a standstill for not the 3 days that I thought, but 5 days. Result? The daily average dropped from 7,200/day in the first half to only 2,800/day for the second half of the month:
Enrollment in Obamacare coverage slowed last month in California, hurt by a recent website outage.
New federal data show 868,936 Californians signed up for health insurance in the state's exchange through March 1.
UPDATE: On the down side, I was off by 4% this time around.
On the up side, I UNDERESTIMATED:
Actual Feb. enrollments: 942,833, for a total of 4,242,325 thru 3/01/14.
Sarah Kliff at Vox just announced that the February HHS report is expected to be released today at around 4:00pm. A few items in anticipation of that:
As I've noted several times, I'm projecting the report to total around 902,000 exchange-based private QHP enrollments for the month of February (technically 2/02 - 3/01)
If accurate, this would bring the cumulative total of exchange-based private QHP enrollments to 4.202 million (from 10/1/13 - 3/01/14)
From the data I have, the average daily enrollment rate in February was almost identical to that of January, which had about 1.146 million QHP enrollments. HOWEVER, the January report included five weeks of data (12/28 - 2/01), while the February report will only include four weeks (2/02 - 3/01). Therefore, even at the same daily average, it'll be about 20% lower no matter what.
If you want to get REALLY specific, call it 902,800 and 4,202,292.
I've been dead-on target 6 times in a row without hyping up my projections beforehand. This time I am hyping myself up beforehand, so I'll probably be way off...but as long as I've UNDERestimated the tally, I'll be perfectly fine with that...
The report will be released in about 5 minutes, but my kid gets home from school in about 10, so it'll be a good 20 minutes before I can really post anything. Feel free to follow Sarah Kliff of Vox in the meantime!
This article is both very helpful but also has 2 frustrating data points missing. The key numbers: While CA was averaging around 7,200 QHP enrollments per day in the first half of February, that rate is apparently up to 8,000/day now. This is excellent, but I don't know whether that 8K/day rate is only for the past week or if it includes the full 2nd half of February (I would guess that it's risen steadily since then.
On the other hand, CoveredCA also suffered from a 3-day outage, which could skew the daily average...they had 3 days of no enrollments, followed, presumably, by the 22K people who tried on those days possibly joining another 22K over the subsequent week or so. Either way, it's looking pretty good, though California will have to end up averaging around 20,000/day in March to do their part in hitting 7M total by 3/31, or 13,000/day to hit 6M.
The other big news here (the main point of the article) is that payment rate for enrollees through 1/31 has gone up from 80% as of 2/19 to 85% as of a couple of days ago:
Yesterday the Obama administration announced several new modifications to ACA implementation. The one that's getting the most attention is a 2-year extension on non-compliant, pre-ACA healthcare plans. After getting criticized for "lying" about his "if you like your plan you can keep it" statement last fall, Pres. Obama gave individual states the option of extending existing plans by 1 year if they wanted; this just extends that period further, out to pretty much the end of Obama's term of office:
Americans with health coverage that predates Obamacare can stay on their plans for two more years, insurers will have an extra month to enroll customers next winter and states will get more time to decide whether to manage the law themselves, officials said. Also, a program aimed at covering financial losses for insurers will be adjusted to help ensure it doesn’t cost taxpayers, the Obama administration said.
There's so much info in today's California press release I've had to move the Medicaid info to a third entry. There's a ton going on in the following passages:
Additionally, 877,000 applicants were determined to be likely eligible for Medi-Cal coverage. DHCS also transitioned 652,000 individuals into the Medi-Cal program from the state’s Low Income Health Program. Automated enrollment allowed county human services agencies to enroll 106,000 individuals into Medi-Cal coverage, and another 65,000 were enrolled through the Express Lane program.
approximately 1.5 million additional Californians have enrolled or been found likely eligible for Medi-Cal since October.
** Does not include applicants for current Medi-Cal coverage through county human services agencies.
OK, let's break this out: The 877K figure is up fro 850K in the January HHS report, which itself was already up from 584K as of January 15, which means a ton of new people enrolled in the 2nd half of January alone.
OK, so this really does mean all enrollees. Fair enough. The downside is that I have to move 165,272 people over to the "Unpaid" category. The upside is that the "How many have PAID???" question just became about 12% cleaner.
Well THAT just figures! In the words of Emily Litella..."Never mind..."
Hot off the presses: California has released their first-half of February enrollment data: 100,228 people have enrolled in Private QHPs in "the first 2 weeks" of February (actually February 2 - 15, I assume, since the 728K number includes Feb. 1st). This breaks down to 7,159/day:
Nearly half of those covered [through 2/01] — 728,410 Californians — selected a Covered California health insurance plan. This strong enrollment trend is extending into February, where in the first two weeks more than 100,000 individuals enrolled in Covered California, increasing the cumulative total enrollment in Covered California to 828,638.
California's January enrollment rate was (728,410 - 498,794) = 229,616 / 35 days = 6,560/day, which means that their February enrollment rate is actually increased from that of January, by over 9%!
So, how does this impact the "February Drop-Off" factor? MASSIVELY! Take a look:
With all the focus on fixing the problems with the individual/group healthcare exchanges, there's been far less attention paid to the more-troubled SHOP (Small Business) exchanges. The administration had already announced that the HC.gov version (covering 34 states*) wouldn't be launched at all until this fall, and 2 of the state-run exchanges (Oregon and Maryland) recently announced that they'd be offline until well after the end of the March enrollment period as well.
Today, Covered California announced that while their SHOP exchange has been operational (with a small number of enrollments to date), they're shutting it down until this fall as well. This leaves 14.5 state-run SHOP exchanges in operation (and yes, that's 14.5, not 15...Washington State's SHOP is only running in 2 counties at the moment).
Still, the press release does give a slight bump in CA's SHOP enrollment before they stop taking new signups: 4,490 individuals covered, plus another 1,200 being processed, for a total of 5,690. That's where it'll stay through the end of the March enrollment period unless they reverse themselves between now and then.
...in which we find the third ACA-created SHOP (Small Business Health Options Program) addition of the day. 2,155 employees is a pretty miniscule number (especially for the largest state in the country), but it's something. Note that it says "2,155 employees", which most likely means about double that when you include dependents, but as always, I'm leaving it here unless I find specific sources stating otherwise.
A total of 289 small employers have signed up for coverage through Covered California’s Small Business Health Options Program, better known as SHOP. These employers will provide coverage to a total of 2,155 employees.