Get Covered

In early February, I posted a deep dive into HR 369, the Health Care Affordability Act, and how it would reduce net ACA premiums by permanently eliminating the income "subsidy eligibility cliff" (#KillTheCliff) and making the underlying subsidy formula more generous for all enrollees (#UpTheSubs).

I'm re-posting an updated, modified version of this analysis for two reasons:

  • First, because HR 1319, the American Rescue Plan, is about to actually pass and be signed into law, with a slightly different formula from HR 369 embedded within it (if only for two years).
  • Second, because my earlier analysis also threw in two other subsidy enhancement tables which confused the issue (California's state-based subsidies, and the predecessor to HR 369, both of which are/were less generous)

In this version I'm using the actual Advanced Premium Tax Credit (APTC) table under the American Rescue Plan, and I'm cutting out all references to the other two tables to avoid confusion.

In previous years, New York State of Health has typically been pretty good about providing timely Open Enrollment reports, so I was mildly irritated by their total radio silence on the issue throughout the 2021 Open Enrollment Period (OEP).

My suspicion was that, like many other states which have expanded Medicaid, New York likely saw a significant drop in on-exchange Qualified Health Plan (QHP) enrollment this season due to the massive job & income loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic last year, as people "downshifted" from QHPs over to Medicaid. In addition, New York is one of only two states which has the ACA's Basic Health Program (BHP) in place; BHP (called the Essential Plan in NY), is sandwiched in between QHPs and Medicaid, for residents earning between 138 - 200% FPL.

Late last night, NYSoH finally got around to releasing their 2021 OEP numbers. Sure enough, my suspicions were correct:

This just in via Connect for Health Colorado:

One Month In, More Than 4,000 Coloradans Sign Up During Exchange's Uninsured Enrollment Period

DENVER – 4,683 previously uninsured Coloradans signed up for a 2021 health insurance plan through Colorado’s Exchange between Monday, February 8 and the end of day Friday, March 5. That’s more than 1,000 new medical enrollments each week during the first month of Colorado’s Uninsured Enrollment Period.

That's an average of 180/day over 26 days for Colorado. I don't know exactly how many Special Enrollment Period (SEP) enrollees they had during the same time period in prior years, but I can estimate based on their monthly dashboards:

via KNPR:

In the face of the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, President Joe Biden reopened enrollment in the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchanges.

For Nevadans, that means the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange is back in business.

The exchange connects Nevadans to health plans compliant with the Affordable Care Act, and it’s the only place consumers can access any federal subsidies.

“As soon as Nevada learned of the news from the federal government, we took immediate action to plan and collaborate with our insurance carriers and the statewide network of 750-plus brokers and navigators to implement a seamless, streamlined process for Nevadans,” said Heather Korbulic, executive director of Silver State Health Insurance Exchange.

Korbulic told KNPR's State of Nevada that there has already been a lot of interest from people around the state. 

"We're pretty excited about the uptake that we've already started seeing and we think this is a wonderful opportunity for Nevadans to get connected to Nevada HealthLink," she said.

via Access Health CT:

Access Health CT To Host Two Educational “Healthy Chats” During Special Enrollment Period

  • Free Virtual Sessions to Help Uninsured Connecticut Residents Get Covered    

HARTFORD, Conn. (March 4, 2021) — Access Health CT (AHCT) announced today it will host two educational sessions called “Healthy Chats” on Tuesday, March 9 at 6:00 p.m. and Wednesday, March 10 at 6:00 p.m. (Spanish only) to help Connecticut residents learn about plan options, financial help, low-cost and free coverage and tips to stay covered during the Special Enrollment Period that runs until March 15, 2021*. The Special Enrollment Period is for consumers who are not currently enrolled in coverage through AHCT.

About these Healthy Chats

The Healthy Chat events are free and will be held virtually via Zoom (in English & Spanish). To join, attendees can access the event here, or here.

Back in late January, when it became clear that the Biden Administration was planning on announcing some sort of "no excuse needed" COVID Special Enrollment Period for the federal ACA exchange, I did a little back-of-the-envelope math to try and get an idea of how many additional people might enroll via HealthCare.Gov than you'd normally see via "standard" Special Enrollment Periods.

At the time, I concluded that for a 60-day SEP of this nature (that is, one completely open to all comers regardless of whether they had a Qualifying Life Experience (QLE)or not), you might be looking at perhaps an extra 400,000 people. selecting plans during that time period. This would be on top of the 4,200/day who enrolled thru HC.gov between the end of Open Enrollment and the end of May via SEPs over the past couple of years, which would be roughly 254,000 for a 60-day period.

A reminder from Your Health Idaho (via email):

Uninsured Special Enrollment Period in Idaho Begins March 1

  • Idahoans who enroll will have coverage beginning April 1, 2021 

BOISE, Idaho – Your Health Idaho, the state insurance exchange, reopens today for Idahoans still seeking 2021 health insurance. Between March 1, and March 31, 2021, uninsured Idahoans can enroll in comprehensive health insurance coverage through the Uninsured Special Enrollment Period.  

This Special Enrollment Period is available for any uninsured Idahoan who missed the open enrollment window and is still seeking health insurance for 2021. Idahoans who enroll by the March 31, deadline will have coverage beginning April 1, 2021. 

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 MNsure:

Last Chance for March 1 Coverage Through MNsure; Special Enrollment Period Continues Through May 17

February 24, 2021

ST. PAUL, Minn.—Minnesotans looking for private health insurance coverage through MNsure that begins on March 1 need to enroll by 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, February 28. Plans selected in March will have an effective date of April 1. MNsure's special enrollment period continues through Monday, May 17, and is available to any Minnesotan who is uninsured or who is not currently enrolled in a qualified health plan through MNsure.

“If you’re looking for health insurance coverage, be sure to check out your options at MNsure.org and get access to comprehensive coverage as soon as possible or prevent a gap in current coverage,” said MNsure CEO Nate Clark. “MNsure's special enrollment period continues through May 17, but Sunday, February 28, is your last chance to get coverage starting in March. Don’t miss out."

Instructions to enroll and frequently asked questions about this special enrollment period can be found here.

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