2020 OPEN ENROLLMENT ENDS (most states)

Time: D H M S

OE7

Starting today, November 1st, the Seventh Annual ACA Open Enrollment Period is upon us! As I do every year, here's a list of important things to remember when selecting a health insurance policy. Some of these are the same every year and apply nationwide; others are specific to the 2020 enrollment period and/or to particular states.

1. DON'T MISS THE DEADLINE!

California actually launched Open Enrollment for 2020 on October 15th, but for the other 49 states (+DC) it starts on November 1st. The deadline for Open Enrollment is December 15th in most states for coverage starting January 1st, 2020, but eight states which operate their own ACA exchanges have extended deadlines:

This just in from Covered California, CA's ACA exchange:

Due to high call volume and enrollment demand, @CoveredCA will extend the deadline for Jan. 1 coverage through midnight next Friday, Dec. 20. That means consumers have an extra 5 days to sign up for #ACA #healthcare coverage for all of 2020. Check rates.

— Covered California News (@CoveredCAnews) December 13, 2019

ALERT: The deadline to enroll in health insurance starting January 1 has been extended to midnight on December 20. Don't wait and get covered!

Moments ago, Covered California, the nation's largest state-based ACA exchange, released data via a media teleconference regarding the 2020 Open Enrollment Period.

In addition to being the largest ACA exchange after HealthCare.Gov, this info from Covered California is especially significant for the 2020 OEP due to their newly expanded/enhanced premium subsidies.

To recap: Under the ACA, financial subsidies are available to exchange enrollees earning between 100-400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). That's between around $12,500 - $50,000/yr if you're a single adult, or between $25,000 - $100,000/yr for a family of four. Under the standard ACA formula, enrollees in that income range have their premiums capped at no more than around 2.0 - 9.8% of their income, on a sliding scale.

Unfortunately, this means that people earning more than 400% FPL are eligible for no financial assistance at all, a sudden drop-off known as the Subsidy Cliff.

This just in from the New York State of Health ACA exchange:

More Than 200,000 New Yorkers Enroll in a Qualified Health Plan During First Forty-One Days of the 2020 Open Enrollment Period

  • December 15 is the Deadline to Enroll for January 1 Coverage

(ALBANY, N.Y.) December 12, 2019 - NY State of Health, the state’s official health plan Marketplace today announced that as of December 11, more than 200,000 consumers have enrolled in a 2020 Qualified Health Plan (QHP) through NY State of Health, the official health plan Marketplace, outpacing enrollment in a QHP at the same period last year by approximately 7,000 enrollees. Consumers must enroll or renew by December 15 for coverage beginning January 1, 2020.

via MNsure, Minnesota's state ACA exchange:

ST. PAUL, Minn.—With the end of MNsure's open enrollment period just under two weeks away, MNsure is reminding private health plan enrollees that there is still time to renew or change their coverage for 2020. Additionally, those who are seeking coverage for 2020 and have not yet submitted an application through MNsure can do so through December 23, 2019.

"We strongly encourage all Minnesotans to come back to MNsure.org and compare plans to ensure they are getting the best deal and the best coverage for their family," said Nate Clark, MNsure CEO. "Financial assistance to lower premium costs is available, and the majority of Minnesotans qualify."

MNsure's open enrollment period runs through December 23, 2019, eight days longer than the federal open enrollment period.

Below is a brief guide to assist Minnesotans with coverage during open enrollment:

In most states, the 2020 Open Enrollment Period deadline is midnight on Sunday, December 15th. In a few states, the deadline is as late as January 31st.

And then there's Idaho. Via Your Health Idaho, the state's ACA exchange:

Deadline to apply for 2020 health insurance is December 16
Your Health Idaho extends hours to support increased interest

BOISE, Idaho – Idahoans seeking 2020 health insurance coverage must complete their application through the state insurance exchange, Your Health Idaho, by Monday, Dec. 16. In anticipation of increased interest and high demand, Your Health Idaho is extending customer support hours through December.

Your Health Idaho will be open Monday through Friday, December 9-20, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. MT. Phone lines will also be open Saturday, Dec. 14, and Saturday, Dec. 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. MT.

The Week 6 HealthCare.Gov Snapshot Report from CMS should be released sometime Wednesday afternoon, covering enrollment in 38 states from Dec. 1st - 7th.

As a reminder, here's what the Week 5 report looked like (for Nov. 1st - 30th):

There are two major things to account for when comparing the two years: First, there's a day missing due to Nov. 1st falling on a Friday instead of a Thursday this year. This likely accounts for around ~120,000 of the difference. Secondly, Nevada split off from HC.gov this year, which accounts for around ~19,000 of the gap the first 3 weeks. In addition, a small portion of the difference is likely due to Idaho and Maine expanding Medicaid; exchange enrollees earning between 100-138% FPL should be tranferred over to Medicaid instead.

via the New Hampshire Insurance Dept by email:

Deadline is Approaching for Open Enrollment Sign-ups

CONCORD, NH – New Hampshire residents should be aware that the deadline to enroll in individual health insurance for 2020 is this Sunday, December 15. After this date, the only way people can enroll in an individual insurance plan is if they qualify for a special enrollment period, typically during the 60 days following certain qualifying life events. Enrollees must pay the first monthly premium by the insurance company’s due date before 2020 coverage can take effect on January 1.

"Now is the time for New Hampshire residents who need individual coverage to enroll in a health plan for next year," said Insurance Commissioner John Elias. "Only if someone has a qualifying life event such as getting married or having a baby can they change their plan during the year. If consumers still have questions about what plan is best for their needs, they should reach out to an insurance agent or an enrollment assister for help understanding their options."

via the Massachusetts Health Connector:

Massachusetts Health Connector Open Enrollment Continues through January 23, Offering High-Quality and Affordable Coverage to Residents

BOSTON – December 9, 2019 – Open Enrollment for health insurance through the Massachusetts Health Connector continues through January 23, 2020, providing residents time to find affordable coverage that delivers a wide range of benefits to make it easier and less costly to get health care.

Uninsured residents have until December 23 to apply, pick a plan and make a payment in order to have coverage starting January 1, and they have until January 23 to apply for coverage starting February 1. In contrast, Open Enrollment in other states served through the federal marketplace ends as early as December 15.

Covered California and the Challenged Athletes Foundation Team Up to Promote Open Enrollment and the Dec. 15 Deadline for Coverage During All of 2020

  • While Covered California’s Open Enrollment period runs through Jan. 31, 2020, consumers must enroll by the end of Dec. 15 to have their coverage begin on Jan. 1.
  • Covered California is teaming up with the Challenged Athletes Foundation, to host a Holiday Boot Camp to promote the importance of health, fitness and the open enrollment period. 
  • The Boot Camp will be led by Paralympian, 2019 Parapan Gold Medalist and World Record Holder Scout Bassett and Nike Master Trainer Betina Gozo.
  • Californians who choose to go without coverage could face a penalty when they file their 2020 taxes.

Covered California continued its statewide open enrollment campaign by teaming up with the Challenged Athletes Foundation in San Diego for its Holiday Boot Camp on Tuesday. The event comes as Covered California alerts consumers about a critical upcoming deadline. Consumers must sign up by Dec. 15 if they want their coverage to start on Jan. 1.

For three years running, thanks to a combination of the way the ACA's premiums subsidy formula works and the Silver Loading workaround, several million low-income people are eligible for fully ACA-compliant healthcare policies which end up costing them NOTHING in premiums after federal tax credits are applied.

Here's why: Under the ACA's subsidy formula, if you earn between 100% - 400% of the Federal Poverty Line ($12,490 - $49,960/yr if you're single), you're eligible for subsidies which bring the cost of the benchmark Silver ACA plan down to between 2.06 - 9.78% of your income, on a sliding scale.

If you earn less than 200% FPL (just under $25,000), you also qualify for heavy cost sharing reduction assistance as well...but only if you enroll in a Silver plan.

So, let's suppose you earn exactly $25,000/yr (just over 200% FPL). At that income, you'd qualify for subsidies bringing the benchmark Silver down to 6.5% of your income, or $135/month. If the benchmark plan costs, $600 at full price, you'd therefore be eligible for $465/month.

via HealthSource RI:

The clock is ticking on picking the best health insurance plan for 2020. High quality and affordable health coverage is available through HealthSource RI, and Rhode Islanders have until December 23rd to purchase coverage that starts on January 1st.
 
Getting health insurance is even more important this year because coverage is now required in the state of Rhode Island. As of January 1st, residents who don’t have health insurance will pay a tax penalty when filing for the prior year.

AGAIN: The federal shared responsibility requirement (aka the individual mandate penalty) may have been zeroed out by Congressional Republicans, but in addition to the District of Columbia, four states (Massachusetts, New Jersey, California and Rhode Island) have reinstated it at the state level.

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 from MNsure, the Minnesota ACA exchange:

All private health plans offered on the MNsure marketplace limit the out-of-pocket cost to enrollees for insulin prescriptions in 2020. Each of MNsure's four insurers are offering either low-cost or free insulin benefits, meaning consumers purchasing plans through MNsure will pay no more than 25 dollars per month for insulin.

"The rising cost of insulin has put a huge financial burden on many families across Minnesota," said Nate Clark, MNsure CEO. "It’s so important to have access to insulin at an affordable price. We encourage all those looking for prescription insulin coverage to check out the plan options at MNsure.org."

Just another quick update from AccessHealthCT:

This year, their press release page states the following:

Stats as of December 6, 2019:

Qualified Health Plans (QHP):

  • Net Total QHP Enrollment: 99,322
  • 2020 OE Acquisition Summary: 10,281

Overall Volume

  • Unique Website Visitors: 128,886
  • Calls Handled: 119,089

Medicaid: Completed applications/redeterminations processed through the integrated eligibility system: 29,692

I'm assuming this means that they've joined several other state exchanges and are front-loading their auto-renewals of everyone currently enrolled. I'm further assuming that of those 99,322 people, 10,281 of them are new enrollees. If so, that means they'll have to enroll just 11,744 more people over the next four weeks to beat last year's 111,066 total.

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