South Carolina

UPDATE 5/19/15: SEE IMPORTANT UPDATE TO THE LUIS LANG SAGA!!

Yeah, that's right, I'll say it: Luis Lang is a hypocrite.

Over at Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall has a story about a guy in South Carolina named Luis Lang who's in a nasty situation due to a combination of bad timing, Republican cold-heartedness and, to be blunt, his own stupidity.

First, the backstory:

As the Charlotte Observer explains, Lang is a self-employed handyman who works as a contractor with banks and the federal government to maintain foreclosed properties. He was making a decent living, enough to be the sole breadwinner in the family. As the Observer puts it, Lang "he has never bought insurance. Instead, he says, he prided himself on paying his own medical bills."

As if we needed even more examples of how utterly full of hooey the chief argument of the King plaintiffs is:

S.C. health care committee didn’t know Obamacare subsidies were in jeopardy

A decision made more than three years ago by a committee that no longer exists might deal a major blow to Obamacare in South Carolina this summer.

...Former members of the S.C. Health Exchange Planning Committee say they weren’t aware in 2011 that their opposition to a state-based insurance marketplace might jeopardize so many people’s ability to pay for coverage.

“At no point in the committee’s discussion was there ever raised a concern that by opting into the federal exchange we were losing anything — especially subsidies,” said Tim Ervolina, president of the United Way Foundation of South Carolina and a former planning committee member. “I recall a very intense discussion with (former) Sen. (Mike) Rose, who stated that, after reviewing the law, he felt confident that we had nothing to lose and everything to gain by opting into the federal exchange.”

Unfortunately, there aren't any specific enrollment numbers given out in this article, but the 3rd paragraph includes a hell of an eye-opener...especially given that this is in deep-red South Carolina:

Last year, insurance agents and federally funded navigators were sitting around their computers, hoping to get into the balky website in the first few weeks after it went online on Oct. 1. When they were able to log in, the system moved at a snail’s pace. The rollout was viewed as a disaster for the Obama administration and the early implementation of the insurance mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

This year, the problem has been finding enough time to help the early rush of people who want to either shop for the best policy or go ahead and enroll. At Richland Library, the appointments for enrollment help are booked through the end of November.

Oregon: Most ACA exchange enrollees previously uninsured, most consider themselves healthy:

Those are two of the findings of a survey released today by the Center for Outcomes Research & Education at Providence Health Services. The goals were to understand who enrolled, assess their connection to care before and after enrollment and to understand their health. At the time of the study, 76,569 Oregonians had signed up through open enrollment.

If I'm going to boast about the states where high percentages of QHPs are paid for (WA, MA, CT, OR, WV & RI, for starters), I do have to be honest and present the lower figures as well. According to the SC insurance commissioner, only about 71.3% of exchange QHPs in that state had been paid up as of 4/30, which is admittedly not great:

Of the 119,784 individuals in South Carolina who applied and selected a policy on the federal exchange, 85,453 - about 71 percent - paid their first month's premium by April 30, Farmer said. That was the last possible day to make that first payment. Those who didn't pay by that date aren't actually insured, he said.

As a side note, that 119,784 figure is actually higher than the official 4/19 HHS total of 118,324; presumably another 1,460 trickled in from 4/20 - 4/30. Even using the lower number, however, the paid rate would only be 1% higher (72.2%).

I should also note that while 71% isn't very good, it's still 10% higher than the 61% that the GOP House Committee report claimed for SC last week.

Again, those extra 11 days seem to be a bit more significant than you'd think; SC was at about 115K according to the HHS report, so they've added another 3,500 or so since 4/19:

Health and Human Services officials said 118,324 state residents — or about 80 percent of the total 146,683 — selected a private health insurance plan. They said 28,359 were eligible for Medicaid.

Simple and to the point:

The S.C. Department of Insurance reported Friday that 114,789 individuals selected a plan on the federal exchange through April 15 - up from an 97,000 estimate earlier this month.

Ah, at last...the Federal exchange state data is starting to trickle in now...

Nearly 100,000 South Carolinians enrolled in a health insurance policy on HealthCare.govbetween Oct. 1 and March 31, the director of the state's insurance department said Monday.

But only some of those 97,387 individuals - about 57 percent - have paid their first month's premium, Director Ray Farmer said.

The number of people actually enrolled may go up or down through May 1 - the deadline by which that first payment must be made.

Data released Monday by the S.C. Department of Insurance shows a sharp increase in Obamacare enrollment in South Carolina during the second half of March. Approximately 30,000 people in this state signed up for a plan during the last two weeks of open enrollment.

It's nice to be able to plug in SC's data, but the "How many have PAID???" thing is more amusing. 31% of the enrollees don't have their policy start until May 1st, so it's only 69% who you would even expect to have paid yet. Presumably the bulk of the 11% in between will pay over the next few weeks, and the 31% May-starts will start paying in increasing numbers as well.

OK, this isn't exactly a major update but it's nice to get the occasional nugget from a Federal Exchange state (especially a deep red one):

@AntonJGunn can you confirm # of #ACA enrollments for South Carolina at 76K? Saw post on Facebook yesterday. Any idea exchange vs. Medicaid

— Burt Insurance Group (@BurtInsGrp) March 29, 2014

"@AntonJGunn: @BurtInsGrp all marketplace enrollments." @charles_gaba

— Burt Insurance Group (@BurtInsGrp) March 29, 2014

This doesn't really make much difference to the projection table, but I'm adding it anyway.

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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