Covered California

This just in from Covered California...

Covered California Opens the Doors for Millions of Californians to Benefit From Lower Health Care Premiums, Save Money and Stimulate the Economy Through the American Rescue Plan

Yesterday's press release from Covered California included a TON of important information about how they're handling the massive subsidy upgrade/expansion under the American Rescue Plan, but it left out one other critically important item which was caught by Inside Health Policy reporter Amy Lotven:

Insurers participating in Covered California have agreed to help move their off-exchange individual plan enrollees into the marketplace so they can benefit from the new Affordable Care Act subsidies available under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and will not reset the deductibles, Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said Thursday (March 18) in a webinar with reporters and key stakeholders.

...Off-exchange enrollees could get an average $500 premium drop, which means they could save as much as $12,000 under the two-year provision, Lee says. About 430,000 Californians and 1.5 million people nationally who are enrolled off-exchange plans are newly eligible for help, the exchange estimates.

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.

A few weeks ago, I did a write-up about a concerning development at HealthCare.Gov: The growing push under the Trump Administration to not only partner with 3rd-party web brokers (which has been done since the first days of the ACA under the Obama Administration), but to actively promote those third-party brokers over HealthCare.Gov itself.

In and of itself, this wouldn't be too problematic as long as people are still ultimately enrolling in fully ACA-compliant policies and receiving ACA subsidies if they're eligible for them. Hell, one of these 3rd-party authorized web brokers even has a banner ad at the top of my website...which I only allow because this particular one only sells on-exchange ACA-compliant policies.

This Just In...

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Dec. 15, 2018

Covered California Extends Deadline for Jan. 1 Coverage Until Friday, Dec. 21

  • Texas District Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act has no impact on Covered California’s open enrollment period.
  • Covered California is extending today’s deadline to Friday, Dec 21, for consumers who want health care coverage that starts on Jan. 1, 2019.
  • Consumers who enroll after Dec. 21, and by Jan. 15, will have their coverage start on Feb. 1.
  • While open enrollment ends in 44 states on Saturday, California is one of seven health insurance marketplaces which will enroll consumers after Dec. 15, serving 25 percent of the U.S. population.
  • 58,000 consumers have signed up since Monday, including 17,000 on Friday.

Covered California, the largest state-based ACA exchange for the largest state in the country, actually launched their 2019 ACA Open Enrollment Period over three weeks ago, on October 15th.

They still haven't posted any 2019 enrollment numbers, which I find rather irritating, but they did just send out the following press release regarding a promotional bus tour they're doing which highlights a couple of interesting data points:

Covered California Launches Iconic Bus Tour to Promote Enrollment and Show How “Life Can Change in an Instant”

OK, this is just kind of...odd.

As regular readers will recall, after three years of full 3 month Open Enrollment Periods across every state, last year the Trump Administration slashed the official Open Enrollment Period in half, down to just 6 weeks, from November 1 - January 31 down to November 1 - December 15th.

In response, most of the state-based exchanges announced that they were sticking with a longer period anyway, ranging anywhere from a 7th week all the way out to the full 3 month period, in the case of California, New York and the District of Columbia...each of which kept things going all the way through January 31st as had become the norm.

California even went one step further, passing a state law specifically mandating a 3-month Open Enrollment Period for 2018 and beyond.

Until today, I've been operating on the assumption that they'd be sticking with the November/December/January schedule which had become the default.

Apparently not, however. According to Louise Norris: