Get Covered

(sigh) After seven years of doing this, you'd think I'd know better: I double-checked the Your Health Idaho website as recently as this morning and saw no announcement of a COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period...and yet look what just showed up in my inbox an hour ago...

Your Health Idaho Announces Special Enrollment Period for Uninsured Idahoans

  • Idaho’s Health Insurance Marketplace will Reopen March 1 

BOISE, Idaho – Your Health Idaho announced today that a Special Enrollment Period will be established from March 1 to March 31. During this time, any eligible uninsured Idahoan can sign up for health insurance coverage.

“As we approach the one-year mark of COVID-19 in Idaho, too many Idahoans are still uninsured and in need of coverage,” said Your Health Idaho Executive Director, Pat Kelly. “Reopening the marketplace and providing Idahoans with a path to comprehensive health insurance is simply the right thing to do.” 

With this announcement, Your Health Idaho joins all state-based marketplaces and the federal marketplace in offering a Special Enrollment Period as the effects of the pandemic continue to be felt across the country.

*(Yes, believe it or not, I was able to come up with an extreme example of an older couple in Oklahoma managing to save a jaw-dropping $64,000/year in heath insurance premiums if the American Rescue Plan is passed, signed and implemented.)

When President Biden announced that HealthCare.Gov would be re-launching an extended Special Enrollment Period in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I wasn't surprised at all; in fact, I would have been shocked if he hadn't ordered the HHS Dept. to do so. I was surprised by how long the new COVID Enrollment Period would be: A full 3 months (I had been expecting either 30, 45 or perhaps 60 days at the outside).

The more I thought about it, however, I realized three good reasons to re-open HC.gov all the way out until mid-May. The first two I already wrote about several weeks ago:

This was already announced earlier, but here's the formal press release with some more details for Minnesota residents:

MNsure three-month special enrollment period begins Tuesday

  • Interested Minnesotans should visit MNsure.org to learn more

ST. PAUL, Minn.—Starting Tuesday, MNsure, Minnesota's health insurance marketplace, will open a three-month special enrollment period. During this time, any Minnesotan who is not currently enrolled in a plan through MNsure, including those who are uninsured, can take advantage of this enrollment opportunity. MNsure's special enrollment period runs from Tuesday, February 16, to Monday, May 17. Those who enroll in a plan during the special enrollment period will have coverage that begins on the first of the following month. For example, Minnesotans who select a plan and enroll in February will have a March 1 start date.

via the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid:

2021 Special Enrollment Period for Marketplace Coverage Starts on HealthCare.gov Monday, February 15

  • SEP allows consumers to enroll in affordable health coverage during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

 Today, in accordance with the Executive Order signed by President Biden, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is announcing that the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for the Health Insurance Marketplace® will officially be available to consumers in the 36 states that use the HealthCare.gov platform on Monday, February 15, and will continue through Saturday, May 15. At least 13 States plus the District of Columbia, which operate their own Marketplace platforms, have decided to offer a similar opportunity.

DC Health Link, the District of Columbia's ACA exchange, has released a new 2021 Open Enrollment report, and while the numbers aren't surprising, they're also a bit fuzzy for a couple of reasons.

Officially, the new report states that 19,997 DC residents selected an individual market ACA exchange plan, up just 65 people over last year's 19,932 (+0.3%). However, there's several factors which make this a bit misleading:

Five weeks ago the Maryland Health Connection announced they were re-opening ACA enrollment through March 15th in light of the ongoing COVID19 pandemic.

When the Biden Administration announced a few weeks later that the federal ACA exchange, HealthCare.Gov, was planning on re-opening enrollment across 36 states for a full 3 months (from Februay 15th - May 15th), however, I was pretty sure that it would only be a matter of time before most of the state-based exchanges matched up with that time window...and sure enough, via the MD Health Connection:

GOV. HOGAN ANNOUNCES EXTENSION OF STATE HEALTH INSURANCE SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD UNTIL MAY 15

With this press release from AccessHealth CT, 49 states +DC have now announced some sort of 2021 COVID-19 Enrollment Period:

ACCESS HEALTH CT ANNOUNCES A SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD FOR UNINSURED RESIDENTS DUE TO ONGOING PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS

I just received confirmation from Vermont Health Connect that they're joining nearly every other state in offering an official COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period...with a few caveats:

Special Enrollment Period for Uninsured Vermonters Opens February 16, 2021

Waterbury, VT— In alignment with the Federal initiative, the State of Vermont is re-opening a special enrollment period on February 16, 2021 to offer Vermonters who do not currently have health insurance an opportunity to enroll in a qualified health plan and receive premium and cost-sharing assistance, if eligible. Intended to facilitate access to health insurance, the special enrollment period is being implemented in partnership with qualified health plan issuers, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont, MVP Health Care, and Northeast Delta Dental. To enroll, Vermonters should call the Customer Support Center at 1-855-899- 9600 Monday through Friday, 8:00AM – 4:30PM.

Add Health Source RI to the list:

HealthSource RI Joins President Biden and Announces New Health Coverage Enrollment Period

EAST PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island (February 1, 2021) — Following President Biden’s announcement on Thursday January 28, HealthSource RI has established a new enrollment period to give Rhode Islanders additional time to sign up for health coverage. Uninsured Rhode Islanders can enroll for coverage effective as early as March 1. HealthSource RI’s enrollment period will continue through May 15, 2021.

This enrollment period is open to all eligible uninsured Rhode Islanders, with no requirement to have a qualifying life event to enroll in health coverage.  Coverage starts the first of the month following a complete enrollment.

via the Nevada Health Link...

Today, the Biden‐Harris Administration announced a Special Enrollment Period, allowing Americans to enroll and purchase on‐Exchange health insurance plans from their respective on‐Exchange marketplaces. On behalf of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange and Nevadans statewide, we are pleased to see positive change taking place at the federal level and to witness the fast‐moving actions to protect the Affordable Care Act (ACA), upon which so many Americans rely for quality, affordable and comprehensive health insurance coverage.

This news comes on the heels of our announcement that nearly 82,000 Nevadans enrolled on Nevada Health Link for coverage in 2021. That’s nearly a six percent increase from last year’s enrollment total.

Today’s news from the White House speaks volumes about how the new Administration will continue to support the ACA and help to bolster the health insurance marketplace, protecting hundreds of millions of Americans.

Not entirely unexpected, though I'm pretty irritated that they still haven't released any enrollment data to date. Via NY State of Health:

Press Release: Governor Cuomo Press Release: As Part of New York’s Ongoing Response to the COVID-19 Panedmic, Governor Cuomo Announces Open Enrollment for New Yorkers Extended Through March 31

As part of New York's ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Open Enrollment Period for uninsured New Yorkers will be extended through March 31, 2021. New Yorkers can apply for coverage through NY State of Health, New York's Official Health Plan Marketplace, or directly through insurers.

Access Health CT, Connecticut's state-based ACA exchange, has updated their enrollment summary and now reports 104,946 residents have selected policies for 2021, including 19,056 new enrollees.

Last year they had a total of 107,833 QHP selections during Open Enrollment, so they end the 2021 Open Enrollment Period down 2.7% year over year.

There's no formal press release, so this total might not be official but it should be pretty close.

UPDATE: I've been sent the full powerpoint slideshow from Access Health CT's monthly board meeting, which is chock full of the details; I've pulled the most important ones:

Customer Interactions:

via Your Health Idaho:

More than 79,000 Idahoans Enroll in 2021 Health Insurance Coverage

BOISE, Idaho – More than 79,000 Idahoans signed up for 2021 health insurance coverage through the state health insurance exchange, Your Health Idaho, during the annual open enrollment period.

Compared to the same time last year, enrollments on the exchange are down by approximately 10,000. This decline is attributed in large part to the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting public health emergencies and protected coverage policies.  

Last year's official Idaho Open Enrollment Period (OEP) Qualified Health Plan (QHP) total was 78,431, so 79,000 should be slightly higher, not 10,000 lower. What's going on here?

Way back on November 30th (a lifetime ago!), my contact at the Massachusetts Health Connector gave me an unofficial mid-period 2021 enrollment report:

Here's where we are at, currently:

  • January effectuations: 275,003
  • Feb. and March effectuations: 5
  • Plan Selections: 9,143
  • Total enrollments: 284,151

As a reminder, "effectuations" have paid the first month premium and are good to go. Plan selections still need payment to start.

As I noted at the time, MA is one of just two states (the other is Rhode Island) which handles premium payments internally, which means they can easily track not just how many people have enrolled but how many have actually made their payments.

Yesterday I requested and received an update six weeks later, and was surprised to see the total number drop slightly:

via DC Health Link:

Hispanic leaders to discuss the vulnerability of Hispanic communities to COVID-19 and state of enrollment opportunities at 6th Annual Hispanic Leadership Health Forum; Virtual enrollment and outreach events scheduled throughout the week

WHAT: 
Despite national studies showing the Hispanic community saw the biggest drops in uninsured rates thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the uninsured rate for the Hispanic community continues to be significantly higher than in other minority communities, according to a recent United States Census report.

In celebration of the National Hispanic Enrollment Week of Action, DC Health Link—in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Latino Affairs (MOLA), Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (GWHCC), Mary’s Center and other community based organizations—will host its Annual Hispanic Enrollment Week of Action. DC Health Link is using this Enrollment Week of Action to accelerate outreach efforts to promote, educate and motivate Hispanics to enroll in quality, affordable health insurance. The Hispanic Enrollment Week of Action runs from January 12, 2021 through January 16, 2020.

via KOLO 8:

New law clearly separates short term limited medical plans from Health Link

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Broker Alex Sampson is busy these days helping local residents connect with a health insurance program through Nevada Health Link.

But just seven days ago, a new law went into effect here in Nevada which may make the process less confusing for consumers looking for health care insurance coverage on their own.

The law impacts short term limited health medical plans. These are plans which provide very limited coverage for one year only to customers and could be confused with policies on Health Link.

“They are being advertised as extremely affordable plans,” says Janel Davis, Health Link Communications Officer. “But again when they go to use those plans and they go to the hospital for example, what they are finding out; what they need health wise is not covered,” says Davis.

Access Health CT, Connecticut's state-based ACA exchange, has updated their enrollment summary and now reports 102,704 residents have selected policies for 2021, including 16,764 new enrollees.

Last year they had a total of 107,833 QHP selections during Open Enrollment, which they're 4.8% away from breaking.

Connecticut residents still have until January 15th to #GetCovered via AccessHealthCT.com.

via NY State of Health:

ALBANY, N.Y. (January 06, 2021) – NY State of Health, the state’s official health plan Marketplace, wants New Yorkers to know it is not too late to get health insurance coverage for 2021, even if they have missed the December 31 enrollment deadline. The Marketplace is reminding consumers to enroll in a Qualified Health Plan (QHP) by January 15 for coverage effective February 1. 

“NY State of Health remains steadfast in our commitment to getting uninsured New Yorkers the coverage they deserve,” said NY State of Health Executive Director, Donna Frescatore. “The marketplace continues to provide affordable, comprehensive health care options during the COVID-19 public health emergency, and we encourage anyone who needs health insurance to enroll now.”

The Marketplace offers many quality, low-cost health insurance options, with a choice of insurers in every county. Free enrollment assistors are available by phone to help individuals find the best plan for themselves and their families.

Just announced moments ago:

As part of the state’s overall response to the coronavirus, and in an effort to prioritize health and safety, Maryland Health Connection opened a new special enrollment period for uninsured Marylanders to enroll in a private health plan. Here’s what you need to know:

When your coverage begins

The coronavirus emergency special enrollment period will begin immediately and ends Monday, March 15. Here are the dates coverage will begin, depending on what day you enrolled in a health plan:

  • Enroll now-Jan. 15, coverage starts Jan.1
  • Enroll Jan. 16-Feb. 15, coverage starts Feb.1
  • Enroll Feb. 16-March 15, coverage starts March.1

How do I enroll?

To enroll, visit MarylandHealthConnection.gov or download the free “Enroll MHC” mobile app. Select “Coronavirus Emergency Special Enrollment Period.”

Access Health CT, Connecticut's state-based ACA exchange, has updated their enrollment summary and now reports 102,190 residents have selected policies for 2021, including 15,310 new enrollees.

Last year they had a total of 107,833 QHP selections during Open Enrollment, which they're 5.2% away from breaking.

Connecticut residents still have until January 15th to #GetCovered via AccessHealthCT.com.

via NY State of Health:

Press Release: As Key Enrollment Deadline Approaches, NY State of Health is Urging Consumers to Sign up Today for Health Coverage Starting January 1

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 29, 2020) - NY State of Health, New York’s official health plan Marketplace today is reminding New Yorkers who are applying for Qualified Health Plan coverage, there is still time to enroll for health coverage effective January 1, 2021. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, NY State of Health is giving New Yorkers more time to enroll in Qualified Health Plan Coverage – consumers who sign up by December 31, 2020, will have coverage starting January 1, 2021.

“High-quality, affordable health coverage is more important than ever as the pandemic continues to surge,” said NY State of Health Executive Director, Donna Frescatore. “With the December 31 deadline quickly approaching we encourage anyone who needs coverage to view their options, sign up today and start the New Year with appropriate coverage.”

via Your Health Idaho:

Final Deadline for Health Insurance in Idaho is December 31

  • Your Health Idaho anticipates increased activity following deadline extension

BOISE, Idaho – Idahoans looking to find 2021 health insurance coverage still have a few days left to enroll through the state health insurance exchange, Your Health Idaho.

After extending the original deadline from Dec. 15, exchange officials are urging Idahoans to apply for the monthly health insurance tax credit and make their final plan selection by 11:59 p.m. (MT) on Thursday, Dec. 31. 

“I cannot stress enough how important this final deadline is for Idahoans,” said Pat Kelly, Your Health Idaho Executive Director. “Even if you are unsure if you will qualify, this is the last chance to complete an application and find out if you are eligible for lower-cost coverage through Your Health Idaho.”

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.

This Just In from MNsure, Minnesota's state-based ACA exchange:

MNsure sees 4% increase in signups during this year's open enrollment period

  • More than 155,000 Minnesotans found coverage through MNsure.org

ST. PAUL, Minn.—From November 1 to December 22, 2020, more than 155,000 Minnesotans found health insurance coverage during MNsure's eighth open enrollment period. A total of 122,269 Minnesotans signed up for private health plans through the exchange, which is 4,729 more than the previous open enrollment period.

It's worth noting that the way MNsure categorizes ACA exchange enrollees is slightly different than how CMS does...according to the official 2020 Open Enrollment Period Report Public Use File, Minnesota only actually enrolled 110,042 people during last year's OEP. I'm not sure what happened to the 12,227 QHP selection difference, but assuming this year's 122.3K figure holds by CMS, it means they're actually up 11.1% year over year, not just 4.0%.

A reminder from MNsure, Minnesota's ACA exchange:

MNsure's Open Enrollment Period Ends Tuesday, December 22 at Midnight

December 21, 2020

ST. PAUL, Minn.—Minnesotans looking for private health insurance beginning January 1, 2021, have until 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, December 22 to enroll in coverage through MNsure.

"Don't miss your chance to get health insurance coverage in the new year," said MNsure CEO Nate Clark. "Come to MNsure.org to compare your options and see if you qualify for financial benefits to lower the cost of your insurance—most Minnesotans do! Get enrolled today and have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ve got comprehensive health coverage."

MNsure's Contact Center is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday, December 21 and 8 a.m. to midnight on Tuesday, December 22.

Most people qualify for financial help. Minnesotans can see their estimated eligibility for financial help by using MNsure's plan comparison tool.

I'm over a month late on this, but the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority issued a mid-OEP enrollment report at their November board meeting (unfortunately they don't appear to have done so at their December meeting), so here it is as of 11/16.

Ther's not a whole lot of interest here, but it's worth noting that DC's effectuated enrollment in November was 7.6% higher than a year ago. This is again likely due to the extended "open" COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period in 2020:

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