Pennsylvania

OK, I almost always cite my sources on data points, but in this case I can't. On the other hand, it's not anything eyebrow-raising either; someone in a position to know has confirmed that at least 1,000 people had enrolled in QHPs via at least one insurer in Pennsylvania as of 11/19.

Considering that PA enrolled over 300,000 people last year, and there are 10 companies participating on the exchange in the state anyway, this isn't a particularly shocking data point, so I'll leave it there, but I can at least add it to the spreadsheet for Pennsylvania, anyway.

VERMONT: Federal Law Raises Questions About Who Can Bid For IT Projects That Support The Exchange

A provision of the Affordable Care Act precluding health insurers or companies in the “same controlled group of corporations” as a health insurer from holding exchange contracts raises questions about Optum working on Vermont Health Connect.

Concerns regarding Optum were raised at the federal level by Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking members of the Finance and Judiciary committees respectively.

IDAHO: Your Health Idaho to launch sign-up system

Basically just an overview of the new Idaho ACA exchange; ID is the only state moving from HC.gov to their own website for the 2nd year, giving them a unique perspective. Most interesting to me is that they're spinning the "autonomy/states-rights" angle, which was the whole reason for pushing states to set up their own exchanges in the first place:

Sarah Kliff at Vox broke the news a few hours ago, but I just received the official press release from CMS; there seems to be some discrepancy about the total number eligible, but it's fantastic news no matter what:

Pennsylvania has apparently struck a deal with the Obama administration to expand its Medicaid program to more than 300,000 poor residents, Joan Alker at Georgetown University tweets:

Pennsylvania would be the 27th state (not including the District of Columbia) to participate in Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, and Gov. Tom Corbett would be the ninth Republican governor to sign on.

According to the CMS Dept, however, the actual number eligible in Pennsylvania could top 500,000:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: CMS Media Relations

August 28, 2014
(202) 690-6145 or press@cms.hhs.gov

CMS Statement on Approval of Medicaid Expansion in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, the Medicaid "woodworker" effect has been specified as being roughly 18,000 people...which is actually higher than the 13,000+ that I had estimated for PA up until now:

Pennsylvania’s Medicaid enrollment is up by more than 18,000 people since the Oct. 1 launch of the Affordable Care Act’s online health plan marketplaces.

The state's enrollment bump in the program for low-income families and individuals is small, though it coincides with larger jumps being experienced in other Republican-led states. Supporters of the ACA are crediting the 2010 federal health care overhaul with encouraging more uninsured to examine their health coverage options. Subsequently they discover that they were already eligible for state-funded insurance programs.

It’s called the “woodwork” effect — people who may have been eligible for Medicaid or related children’s programs all along only learned of their eligibility during the six-month push to sign Americans up for health insurance.

In other words, they “came out of the woodwork.”

This LA Times story from 4/21 is chock full of good news:

First, apparently the ACA is such a "socialist, anti-capitalist" enemy of the free market that the private, for-profit insurance companies are just fleeing for the hills. Oh wait, actually...

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said all 11 current health plans have indicated they plan to return next year. He also said three new plans have submitted letters of intent indicating they may compete on the exchange in 2015.

Excellent find by contributor deaconblues; HighMark is one of the few major insurance companies which has been very open about their off-exchange QHP enrollments. This press release contains some great updates for 3 different states, including a total exchange QHP update for West Virginia (since HighMark is the only insurance company operating on the exchange there anyway):

Highmark's total enrollment* for individuals who have purchased Affordable Care Act-compliant plans both on the federal marketplace exchange and through Highmark directly:

Pennsylvania: 148,003 total with 104,324 on-exchange and 43,679 off-exchange
West Virginia: 20,131 total with 14,839 on-exchange and 5,292 off-exchange
Delaware: 13,010 total with 9,187 on-exchange and 3,823 off-exchange

Through both on- and off-exchange purchases, Highmark had a noteworthy percentage of new members, which are likely those who were previously uninsured or had insurance with a competitor.

Pennsylvania: 53 percent new members
West Virginia: 63 percent new members
Delaware: 67 percent new members

Two different people sent me two different articles which help piece together more of the off-exchange puzzle.

From January, this article about Independence Blue Cross of Pennsylvania:

Independence, the region's largest health insurer, with 13 plans on the marketplace, reported enrolling 52,278 people from Oct. 1, when healthcare.gov opened, through Dec. 24, the last day to buy for the new year....

Just over half of Independence's new members - 27,528 - went through the federal marketplace; 24,750 of them used the company's website, telesales, or the mobile Independence Express and brokers.

OK, that's 24,750 (47.3%) off-exchange enrollments through 12/24.

Then, yesterday (3/18):

A beautiful find by new contributor Uncle Toby: Highmark Inc., a major insurer which serves Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Delaware, just did exactly what I've been wanting every insurer to do: They officially announced not just their off-exchange enrollments, but specified the exact date that these run through and the fact that they're all 100% ACA compliant.

As a bonus, they've included specific state-by-state breakdowns as well as a comparison against their on-exchange enrollments. 32% of PA's, 27% of WV's and 29% of Delaware's QHP enrollees to date have been off-exchange. This proves exactly what I've been saying: There are absolutely several million (at a minimum) direct QHPs out there which simply haven't been documented publicly yet.

UPDATE: On the down side, I was off by 4% this time around.

On the up side, I UNDERESTIMATED:

Actual Feb. enrollments: 942,833, for a total of 4,242,325 thru 3/01/14.

Sarah Kliff at Vox just announced that the February HHS report is expected to be released today at around 4:00pm. A few items in anticipation of that:

  • As I've noted several times, I'm projecting the report to total around 902,000 exchange-based private QHP enrollments for the month of February (technically 2/02 - 3/01)
  • If accurate, this would bring the cumulative total of exchange-based private QHP enrollments to 4.202 million (from 10/1/13 - 3/01/14)
  • From the data I have, the average daily enrollment rate in February was almost identical to that of January, which had about 1.146 million QHP enrollments. HOWEVER, the January report included five weeks of data (12/28 - 2/01), while the February report will only include four weeks (2/02 - 3/01). Therefore, even at the same daily average, it'll be about 20% lower no matter what.
  • Don't be surprised if Peter Lee of CoveredCA decides to steal some thunder by announcing that California has enrolled 1,000,000 QHPs all by itself either today or tomorrow. However, that would include the past 10 days, while the HHS number will only run thru 3/01.
  • If you want to get REALLY specific, call it 902,800 and 4,202,292.
  • I've been dead-on target 6 times in a row without hyping up my projections beforehand. This time I am hyping myself up beforehand, so I'll probably be way off...but as long as I've UNDERestimated the tally, I'll be perfectly fine with that...
  • The report will be released in about 5 minutes, but my kid gets home from school in about 10, so it'll be a good 20 minutes before I can really post anything. Feel free to follow Sarah Kliff of Vox in the meantime!

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