New Jersey

As I noted Monday, I believe August 1st was the deadline for every state to submit their 2017 rate filings, meaning that the 14 states missing from my Requested Rate Hike Project are finally available to be plugged into the spreadsheet. I'll also be going back through the other states I've been tracking since as early as April to see which ones require updates due to carriers dropping out, joining in or resubmitting their rate requests.

In 2014, New Jersey's total individual market was estimated at around 261,000 people, including off-exchange, grandfathered and transitional enrollees. Assuming 25% growth, this should be around 325,000 today.

After a couple of quiet weeks, I have to dust off the UnitedHealthcare Dropout Odometer again. According to Katie Jennings of Politico...

UnitedHealth Group is pulling out of New Jersey’s Obamacare marketplace in 2017.

The company’s subsidiary, Oxford Health Plans, will stop offering individual plans on the state’s federally facilitated health insurance marketplace, according to a letter from the state Department of Banking and Insurance.

The letter was obtained by POLITICO through an Open Public Records Act request and the company later confirmed it will not offer exchange plans next year.

“Individuals impacted by these decisions will continue to have access to their current health benefits until the end of 2016, when they will need to pick new plans for 2017. Our small and large group business, Medicare and Medicaid businesses will not be impacted by this decision,” the company said in an emailed statement.

This may seem like common knowledge now, but in 2014, it felt like I was one of the only people who recognized that there were millions of people enrolling in ACA-compliant policies off of the ACA exchanges, directly via the insurance carriers themselves. My best estimate for 2014 was that in addition to the 7 million or so exchange-based individual market enrollees, there were another roughly 8 million people who enrolled off-exchange (although several million of those were in non-ACA compliant policies).

IMPORTANT: See this detailed explanation of how I've come up with the following estimated maximum weighted average rate increase request for New Jersey

Assuming you've read through the explanation linked to above, here's my best estimate of the maximum possible and most likely average rate increase requests for the New Jersey individual market:

Again, the full explanation is included in the Missouri estimate, but to the best of my knowledge, it looks like the companies requesting rate increases higher than 10% come in at a weighted 13.4% increase, but only make up about 50% of the total ACA-compliant individual market, with several other companies (Oscar, AmeriHealth & possibly other off-exchange only companies) requesting increases of less than 10% (or possibly even decreases in some cases) and making up the other half.

This article is mainly about New Jersey ACA navigators strategizing for the 2016 open enrollment period, but it also includes one handy data nugget:

In addition, NJ FamilyCare – the state’s primary Medicaid coverage program -- has added 463,463 residents to its rolls since December 2013, including 42,947 in April.

The fact that 9% of the net increase happend 16 months after the Medicaid expansion provision started is surprising to me, consideirng that according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, only around 390,000 uninsured NJ residents were even eligible for the program as of last fall to begin with. In other states, like Michigan, things have pretty much plateaued as every eligible resident has pretty much been enrolled already.

When I last checked in on New Jersey back in June, their Obamacare Medicaid expansion tally was at around 229,000 people. This number has jumped to 343,000, out of around 466,000 NJ residents eligible for the program, or roughly 74%:

The 343,000-person expansion in Medicaid enrollment this year is nearly three quarters of the 466,000-person expansion-eligible population estimate by the Kaiser Family Foundation. But the 161,775 residents who enrolled through the marketplace are equal to just over one quarter of the estimated 628,000 eligible.

The other noteworthy thing here is that according to my own breakdown of the KFF estimates, New Jersey only has around 562,000 uninsured eligible for tax credits via the ACA, not 628K. However, this is mostly moot since those with insurance can also purchase QHPs via the exchange as well if they wish, so it's not really that big of a deal.

As for the 161,775 QHP figure, that dates back to last spring, so no update there.

Last October, at the height of the botched HC.gov rollout, I repeatedly commented over at Daily Kos:

 I still don't know why they didn't roll it out one state per day; if they'd gone alphabetically, they would have had a solid week to work the kinks out with a (relatively) low volume before hitting a big state:

  • Alabama, Alaska, Arizona and Arkansas are all relatively low-population.
  • California, Colorado, Connecticut and Delaware* are all state-run exchanges.
  • That means they wouldn't have hit Florida on the federal site until tomorrow.

I know that the system still would have had serious software issues, but at least they wouldn't have to deal with the massive overload of traffic at the same time that they were trying to fix the issues.

*(Obviously I was mistaken at the time about Delaware running their own exchange, but it's still a low-population state so my point was still valid...and of course the District of Columbia does run their own exchange).

Well, obviously it was too late for that at the time, and they've since scrambled to get their act together on the individual exchange side.

As of the end of the open enrollment period (4/19), New Jersey's exchange QHP total stood at 161,775; this hasn't been updated officially since. Their Medicaid enrollee tally was updated to 201,095 as of 5/30. That means that the combined total is up around 37,000.

The QHP/Medicaid ratio is tricky to estimate, not just because it isn't provided but because of the differing dates. However, I'll assume for now that NJ's off-season QHP rate has been running at around 20% of the total enrollment period rate of about 800 per day; that would make it 160/day, or 9,400 QHPs plus another 27,600 Medicaid enrollees:

The federal government reported in May that 161,775 Jerseyans bought insurance policies on the Marketplace since HealthCare.gov launched Oct. 1. The health insurers, however, are reporting enrollment numbers that exceed the government’s numbers. And experts predict those numbers will rise, since individuals whose health insurance policies don’t comply with ACA rules will be able to buy new policies on HealthCare.gov through 2014 as their old policies expire.

Wow! New Jersey's ACA Medicaid Expansion is up to over 201,000 people (43% of the total eligible population), helping reduce the state's uninsured rate from 21.2% to 13.2% in the past 8 months:

A monthly enrollment report showed that 1,485,576 state residents were covered by FamilyCare, which includes coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. That total represented a 45,674-person increase from April and a 201,095-person increase since January 1, when the eligibility expansion went into effect.

The numbers suggest that the number of uninsured New Jerseyans has continued to fall since early March, when a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-sponsored survey found that the percentage of state residents without insurance had already fallen to 13.2 percent, down from 21.2 percent in September.

That's not me saying it; that's the actual headline and the conclusion of a report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation:

RENTON — The first look at the Affordable Care Act’s impact on New Jersey reveals the percentage of uninsured people is on track to reach its lowest level in nearly a quarter of a century, according to a new report released Thursday by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The proportion of uninsured adults decreased 38 percent from September to early March, according to the foundation. That decline is likely to accelerate, knowing that many people waited until the last minute to beat the March 30 enrollment deadline.

"These findings suggest that uninsurance in New Jersey is at its lowest level since 1990," according to the report produced by the foundation and the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy.

The New Jersey Medicaid expansion tally has jumped around a bit due to differing definitions of the enrollments, but this new one seems in line with my expectations and the wording is pretty specific:

Another 140,000 residents joined the state’s newly expanded Medicaid program, which now allows people who are slightly above the poverty line to qualify for coverage.

So, the absurd GOP House Energy & Commerce Committee Report which claimed that only 67% of exchange QHP enrollees are paid up has been thoroughly demolished by not just myself, but pretty much every other legitimate news media outlet there is (which leaves out FOX News, I'm afraid). In addition to only running through 4/15 (when 38% of the total QHP payments weren't even due yet), it only counted 160 of the 300+ insurance providers on the ACA exchanges, among many other ludicrous methodological flaws.

However, something did just occur to me. Take another look at their state-by-state breakout (which, again, only includes states on the Federal exchange...and even then, leaves out Idaho and New Mexico for reasons unknown), and there's several states which I find rather interesting:

The key point of this article is that it specifically designates the 98K as being expansion enrollees (no woodworkers/churn):

Another 98,000 New Jersey residents were determined to be eligible for the new, expanded version of Medicaid.

UPDATE: More accurate number from another source:

Another 98,240 Garden State residents enrolled in the expanded Medicaid program, NJ Family Care. 

Earlier today I received the following question via Twitter:

@charles_gaba off-topic? NJ had coverage 4 adult until age of 30-31? Do they go down to 26 under ACA and if so, did you account for that?

— Mary Ann James (@ernestine1006) April 13, 2014

I honestly wasn't sure how to answer this. I had heard that some states already required insurers to allow kids up to 26 to be covered, but wasn't previously aware that NJ (or any other state) went beyond 26...

@ernestine1006 I have no idea. Didn't know any state required policies to offer higher than 26. Would imagine it works like min. wage...

— Charles Gaba (@charles_gaba) April 13, 2014

...and thanks to the power of Twitter, this was quickly confirmed to be the case:

One of the few updates out of New Jersey, it looks like Chris Christie made one decent decision last year, anyway...

New Jersey FamilyCare has added over 100,000 people to its rolls, contributing to savings that Gov. Chris Christie has already anticipated in his proposed budget.

In just the first three months of this year, 102,268 state residents were added to the rolls of FamilyCare, which includes recipients of two federally supported programs – Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

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