New York: Over 170K QHPs & 760K BHPs; up ~15% & ~8% year over year!

2019 OPEN ENROLLMENT ENDS (most states)

Time: D H M S

This Just In from the New York State of Health exchange...

Press Release: NY State of Health Announces 2019 Enrollment is Up in First Month of Open Enrollment Period
Dec 5, 2018

  • More than 930,000 Consumers Enroll in a Qualified Health Plan or the Essential Plan
  • December 15 is the Deadline to Enroll for January 1, 2019 Coverage

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 5, 2018) - NY State of Health, the official health plan Marketplace, today announced in the first four weeks of the 2019 open enrollment period, enrollment is outpacing last year. More than 930,000 consumers have enrolled or renewed coverage in a Qualified Health Plan or the Essential Plan for 2019. Consumers must enroll or renew by December 15, for coverage beginning January 1, 2019.

As a reminder: New York, along with Minnesota, utilizes the Basic Health Program provision of the ACA. This is a special type of healthcare policy which is sort of sandwiched in between Medicaid and ACA exchange policies. It's intended for people with incomes ranging from 138% FPL (just over the Medicaid expansion limit) to 200% FPL, or between $16,700 - $24,300/year for a single adult. Enrollees pay a flat premium of between $0 - $20/month (in NY) or $0 - $80 (in MN) depending on income, is pretty comprehensive and is beloved by enrollees in both states. Think of it as "Managed Medicaid Plus" if you will.

BHP enrollees (called "MinnesotaCare" in MN and "Essential Plan" in NY) are not counted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) as part of official ACA exchange Qualified Health Plan (QHP) enrollment, mainly because 1) enrollment in BHPs is year-round and 2) BHP enrollees aren't part of the same risk pool as QHPs. While I understand the reasoning for this, it's unfortunate because BHP enrollment also "cannibalizes" enrollees from both states. I include BHP enrollment on The Graph but separate it out and don't include it in the total QHP count.

“Open Enrollment for 2019 coverage is off to a robust start in New York. Current consumers are re-enrolling at a rapid rate and more than 51,000 new consumers have already enrolled in a plan,” said NY State of Health Executive Director, Donna Frescatore. “The swift pace of enrollment shows that New Yorkers want the affordable health coverage they deserve. We urge consumers to shop now and pick the right plan before December 15.”

To clarify: New York's Open Enrollment Period doesn't actually end until January 31st, but if you enroll after December 15th your coverage won't start until either February or March.

The high renewal rate reflects administrative improvements NYSOH has made to make it easier for enrollees to automatically renew their coverage, as well as increased outreach to enrollees to provide information about when and how to renew their coverage.

As of December 1, 2018, total QHP and EP enrollment stands at 933,254. More than 170,000 consumers have already renewed coverage or are newly enrolled in a QHP for 2019, and Essential Plan enrollment has reached more than 760,000. More than 4.5 million New Yorkers have enrolled in a health plan through the Marketplace. Open Enrollment in a QHP continues through January 31, 2019.

Argh...those rounded numbers are annoying. I'm going to assume 170,500 QHPs and 762,754 BHPs for the moment.

Here's the really impressive part, though: Take a look at LAST year's press release from 11/30:

In the first four weeks of the 2018 open enrollment period, enrollment is outpacing last year by about 13 percent. More than 140,000 consumers have already renewed coverage or newly enrolled in a QHP for 2018 and Essential Plan enrollment has reached nearly 700,000. Open Enrollment in a QHP continues through January 31, 2018. Consumers must enroll by December 15, 2017 for coverage beginning January 1, 2018. Enrollment in the Essential Plan is open all year.

Unfortunately, the dates don't quite match up (12/01 this year vs. 11/28 last year). I estimate that the 12/01/17 numbers were around ~150K QHPs and ~704K BHPs, which would still put the current totals up an impressive 15% and 8% year over year respectively.

NOTE: According to this morning's Politico Pro newsletter, last year's numbers for the "similar period" were 166K and 710K, but those were as of December 6th.

So, we have:

  • QHPs: 140K on 11/28 & 166K on 12/06, which gives roughly 150K as of 12/01
  • BHPs: 700K on 11/28 & 710K on 12/06, which gives roughly 704K as of 12/01

Consumers who are eligible for a Qualified Health Plan with federal tax credits will see no or little increase in monthly costs in 2019. Bronze level Qualified Health Plans will be free to individuals with incomes up to $25,000 and not eligible for Medicaid or the Essential Plan in every county of the state, and less than $50 a month for individuals with incomes up to $30,000 a year in 41 counties. Bronze level Qualified Health Plans have a higher annual deductible than other metal level plans, but provide free preventive care and protect against catastrophic costs.

The 2019 advertising campaign again features real consumers and their assistors telling their stories about the benefits of enrolling through NY State of Health. Ads will continue through the open enrollment period and special events will be held in Queens and the Bronx, two areas of the state with higher than average rates of uninsured, to get the word out about coverage options and when and how to enroll. The first event will be held next Wednesday, December 12, as a live webinar with enrollment assistors, in English, Spanish and Mandarin. More information about this event will be announced soon.

Enrollment in the Essential Plan, Medicaid and Child Health Plus is open all year. For information on enrollment eligibility or to enroll in a health plan visit: www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov, call the Customer Service Center at: 1-855-355-5777, or contact an enrollment assistor.

NY State of Health representatives will be available at many events across the state to educate New Yorkers about the Marketplace, and to enroll consumers in health plans. A list of locations is available on the events map.