Massachusetts

Massachusetts

For awhile now, in spite of overwhelming evidence that COVID-19 deaths have been undercounted nationally by as much as 25%, skeptics and deniers have insisted that they're actually being overcounted because (as the now-cliche saying puts it) many are dying "with COVID but not of COVID."

Well, in Massachusetts at least, it looks like these folks may have finally gotten what they wanted...sort of. The following press release came out from the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health a few days ago:

Department of Public Health updates COVID-19 death definition

MA Health Connector

via the Massachusetts Health Connector:

Starting in 2023, Health Connector coverage will include new benefits, protections, and reduced cost-sharing to advance health equity objectives. The Health Connector is among the leaders of state-based marketplaces in leveraging its plan certification process to explicitly advance and invest in targeted health equity priorities.

Informed by state and national health policy research and data, and stakeholder engagement, Health Connector staff identified health equity concerns in the health coverage landscape and designed its 2023 Seal of Approval plan certification process to advance objectives tailored to address those equity issues.

MA Health Connector

via the Massachusetts Health Connector:

Simple Sign-up health insurance enrollment is as easy as checking a box on the state tax form

  • New program will simplify sign up for coverage through the Health Connector 

February 7, 2022 – Uninsured Massachusetts residents can check a box on their state tax forms to quickly start the process of getting health insurance through the Massachusetts Health Connector’s new Simple Sign-up program. The program will increase access to health insurance, and provide assistance signing up for coverage to thousands of residents.

Through the Simple Sign-up program, when checking the box on the tax form, individuals authorize the Department of Revenue to communicate select elements of the tax filer’s information with the Health Connector. The Health Connector will use this information to create and send tailored information to the tax filer, and to work with residents towards obtaining the most appropriate health plan.

MA Health Connector

This just in via the Massachusetts Health Connector (by email):

  • 253,253 January effectuations
  • 6,247 February and March effectuations
  • 4,643 plan selections
  • 264,143 total enrollments/plan selections

The above includes 22,729 new enrollments, which includes people who never had Health Connector coverage in the past, or who did, dropped exchange at some point, and have come back for 2022.

This is up around 2,000 since December 25th, but is still down over 10% from last year, making Massachusetts one of only 5 state exchanges to see QHP enrollment drop year over year (to be fair, there's still a few days left for MA as well as Kentucky, DC and New York. The fifth is Hawaii. Having said that, enrollments in the other four states only runs through anywhere from December 15th - December 25th, whereas MA's total is current through yesterday.

Rate Changes

As I noted last night, thanks to the federal Rate Review website finally being updated to include the final, approved 2022 rates for both the individual and small group markets in all 50 states (+DC), I've been able to fill in the missing data for my annual ACA Rate Change Project.

As I note there, the overall weighted average looks like it'll be roughly +3.5% nationally.

Normally I write up a separate entry for both the preliminary and approved rate changes in each individual state, but it seems like overkill to create 14 separate entries at once. Besides, in many of these states there's been few if any changes between the preliminary and approved rate changes.

MA Health Connector

via the Massachusetts Health Connector:

Nov. 1, 2021 – Open Enrollment for 2022 health insurance begins today at the Massachusetts Health Connector, with more opportunities for enrollees to find financial assistance with their monthly premiums.

Open Enrollment runs through Jan. 23, 2022, with a deadline to apply, pick a plan, and make a first premium payment by Dec. 23, for coverage to begin Jan. 1, 2022. Open Enrollment is the time when individuals without health insurance can find coverage through the Health Connector without a qualifying reason.

“Access to affordable health care for individuals and families in Massachusetts is vital,” said Marylou Sudders, Secretary of Health and Human Services and Chair of the Health Connector’s Board of Directors. “Massachusetts has the highest insured rate in the nation, and Open Enrollment offers individuals the opportunity to apply and choose a coverage plan that meets their needs and provides security for their health and wellbeing.”

Massachusetts

Massachusetts, which is arguably the original birthplace of the ACA depending on your point of view (the general "3-legged stool" structure originated here, but the ACA itself also has a lot of other provisions which are quite different), has 9 different carriers participating in the individual market. MA (along with Vermont) has merged their Individual and Small Group risk pools for premium setting purposes, so I'm not bothering breaking out the small group market in this case.

Getting a weighted average for Massachusetts is trickier than in most states, for a couple of reasons. The good news is there's an August 2021 enrollment report which breaks out exactly how many MA residents are enrolled in each carrier's policies. However, the numbers are actually broken into 4 different categories: Small Group (which, again, is merged with the individual market in MA); "ConnectorCare" individual market policies; subsidized Qualified Health Plans and unsubsidized QHPs.

MA Health Connector

Last week I noted that MNsure, Minnesota's state-based ACA exchange, announced that while the general, open-ended 2021 Special Enrollment Period had ended back in mid-July, they're still letting any Minnesotan who received unemployment benefits at any point in 2021 the opportunity to enroll in ACA healthcare coverage & take advantage of the American Rescue Plan's Unemployment Benefit.

The key point is that Minnesotans can still do so even if they received UI benefits prior to the July 15th SEP deadline. This means that if you were on unemployment back in, say, January or February, and you still need healthcare coverage for the remainder of 2021, you can still visit MNsure.org and get coverage for the last 4 months of this year for $0 in premiums and with mostly nominal deductibles/co-pays (assuming you aren't eligible for employer-based coverage, Medicaid, etc. instead).

Massachusetts

I've once again relaunched my project from last fall to track Medicaid enrollment (both standard and expansion alike) on a monthly basis for every state dating back to the ACA being signed into law.

For the various enrollment data, I'm using data from Medicaid.gov's Medicaid Enrollment Data Collected Through MBES reports. Unfortunately, they've only published enrollment data through December 2020. In some states I've been able to get more recent enrollment data from state websites and other sources.

Today I'm presenting Massachusetts. For enrollment data from January 2021 on, I'm relying on adjusted estimates based on raw data from the Massachusetts Health Dept. (MassHealth).

Massachusetts

 Now that I've developed a standardized format/layout & methodology for tracking both state- and county-level COVID vaccination levels by partisan lean (which can also be easily applied to other variables like education level, median income, population density, ethnicity, etc), I've started moving beyond my home state of Michigan.

Here's Massachusetts:

Note: The CDC lists ~413,000 Massachusetts residents (12.3% of the total fully vaccinated) whose county of residence is unknown.

For Massachusetts, it's important to note several things: First, every county in the state voted for Joe Biden by a wide margin (Bristol is the closest thing the state has to a "swing district").

Second, there's very little variance in vaccination rates between them as of today...with two weird exceptions: Barnstable and Dukes/Nantucket...in which, according to the CDC, only 4% and 2% of residents have been vaccinated to date, which makes zero sense whatsoever.

I know that Dukes & Nantucket are often merged for purposes of county-level data, and have a far lower combined population than the rest of the state, so I assume there's some unusual "county classification" going on there, or that the residents are reported as residing elsewhere or something. I don't know what the deal is with Barnstable, however.

Combine this with the unusually high "unknown" vaccination rate (no other state I've seen so far has had more than half as many in that category) and I'm not sure what to make of Massachusetts.

Pages

Advertisement