END OF 2018 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD (42 states)

Time: D H M S

Maryland

The last update out of Maryland had 2018 QHP selections breaking 130K total, with new enrollments up 10% and overall enrollments up 3% year over year through Nov. 17th.

Just now, the MD Health Connection posted an update through this week:

Incoming exec director Michele Eberle of @MarylandConnect urges Marylanders to enroll in health coverage with 10 days left. New enrollments up 14% this year. Mobile app visitors up 140% Overall enrollment up 4% Keep it going! pic.twitter.com/75g2qu5PbC

— MD Health Connection (@MarylandConnect) December 5, 2017

I'm assuming these stats are as of December 4th. Last year MD's official QHP selection tally as of December 3rd was around 129,000; if they're 4% ahead of that as of the same date, that means they should have a little over 134,000 to date this year.

via the Maryland Health Connection:

MARYLAND ACA EXCHANGE ENROLLMENTS AS OF 11/17/17:

  • Total Enrollments (active renewal, passive renewal, new): 130,556 (up 3% vs. last year)
  • Active Enrollments (renewals + new): 29,478 (up 98% over last year)
  • New Enrollments: 10,900 (up 10% over last year)
  • Applications: 275,790 (up 13% over last year)
  • Mobile App Visitors: 74,744 (up 110% over last year)

OK, the MD exchange breaks out their numbers slightly differently than I do, but they've provided the numbers necessary to reformat. Like a few other states, they're "front-loading" their auto-renewals, giving the following:

  • 18,578 Active Renewals
  • 101,078 Auto-Renewals
  • 10,900 NEW Enrollees
  • 130,556 TOTAL Enrollments

For clarification: When the MD exchange says that 130,556 is "3% higher than last year", they're talking about at this point in time. Subtract 3% and you get roughly 126.7K as of 11/17/16. Maryland's total enrollment by the end of the 2017 Open Enrollment Period was 157,832.

The article is behind a firewall so I can only post the opening line, but it includes the key number:

Maryland health exchange enrollment is up 104% through first week 

Enrollment numbers totaled 16,198 as of Nov. 9. This time last year, that total was 7,941.

Crisp & clean and no caffeine: That's up almost 6,000 more in just a couple of days.

This is just an update to an existing Washington Post story, but it looks like the Maryland exchange is issuing near-daily updates (which is awesome in my view):

...Statewide, in fact, growth is up 100 percent since last year, according to Betsy Plunkett, a deputy director for the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. First-time enrollment is up 15 percent, with changes to existing plans up 270 percent. Overall, 10,420 people enrolled in the first week compared to 5,212 in 2016, she said.

As I noted a few days ago, Maryland was the first state to issue Day One numbers, and they were pretty impressive, a 70% increase year over year.

Well, apparently they've increased the pace since then:

"We realize it's a shorter period so we have to get people in the door quicker," said Andrew Ratner, chief marketing officer for Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, which runs the marketplace.

Sign-ups have been brisk so far, with more than 5,000 people picking plans in the first two days, nearly twice as many as last year. The Maryland Health Connection website, which usually closes at 11 p.m., had to stay open an hour later on Wednesday because 300 people were still online. Maryland currently has about 120,000 Obamacare enrollees.

...and again in Day Three:

Believe it or not, the original core focus of ACASignups.net was...wait for it...to track how many people are Signing Up for the ACA. Hard to believe, I realize.

Anyway, I have my first hard data point of the batcrap insane 2018 Open Enrollment Period, and it's a surprisingly positive one:

Enrollments in health insurance through the state’s health exchange was robust on the first day of open enrollment Wednesday, with more people signing up for insurance than last year, officials said Thursday.

Advocates and others had expressed concern that consumers would be confused by political wrangling and policy changes to the Affordable Care Act from the administration of Pres. Donald Trump that led to last-minute rate increases and a severe decrease in marketing dollars for the program.

But exchange officials reported that enrollments under the law, known as Obamacare, were up 70 percent to more than 1,800 compared with 1,055 on the first day a year ago. About 150,000 people signed up for private insurance on the exchange in the state last year and more enrolled directly through insurers.

Up until a week ago, the possibility of Donald Trump pulling the plug on Cost Sharing Reduction reimbursement payments was a looming threat every day. While it hadn't actually happened yet, most of the state insurance commissioners and/or insurance carriers themselves saw the potential writing on the wall and priced their 2018 premiums accordingly (or at the very least prepared two different sets of rate filings to cover either contingency).

A few spread the extra CSR load across all policies, both on and off the exchange. This seems like the "fairest" way of handling things on the surface, but is actually the worst way to do so, because it hurts all unsubsidized enrollees no matter what they choose for 2018 and can even make things slightly worse for some subsidized enrollees in Gold or Platinum plans.

The Maryland Health Connection is now allowing residents to comparison shop for 2018:

View 2018 health insurance plans and prices now!

MarylandHealthConnection.gov has already been loaded with plans and prices for 2018, one month before open enrollment begins. The upcoming open enrollment period will run November 1 - December 15. Health coverage will start on January 1, 2018.

  • How do I get an estimate for 2018 health insurance plans?

You can compare plans and prices through a desktop computer browser or by downloading our mobile app, Enroll MHC, on your iPhone or Android.

Click on “Get Started”- this will take you to the application portal. Next, click “Get an Estimate” on the application site. Finally, enter basic information like your county, age and income to see what coverage and financial help you may qualify for. If you choose to get an estimate, the site will take you through a scenario of what plans and pricing you could receive for 2018. You won’t actually be applying for coverage.

When I last checked in on Maryland's individual market rate hikes for next year, the picture was pretty grim: Overall requested increases of around 46%...and that assumed that CSR reimbursements are made in 2018. If you assume CSRs aren't paid, it looked even worse: A whopping 57% average increase statewide for unsubsidized enrollees. Ouch.

Today, the Maryland Insurance Dept. issued their approved rate changes for the individual and small group markets...and while they did knock the rate increased down significantly, there's still not much to be cheery about. It also includes a couple of handy additional data points:

The Maryland Insurance Administration Approves Non-Medigap Premium Rates for 2018 Small Group and Individual Markets

Open Enrollment Begins Nov. 1 in the Individual Market; Consumers Encouraged to Shop Rates

As noted the other day, now that I've compiled the initial 2018 rate filing requests for 46 states + DC (the remaining 4 states aren't public yet), it's time to go back to the earlier states I analyzed and see whether there's been any updates/corrections to my original estimates. I started running the numbers back in early May, and a lot has changed since then, with carriers dropping out of the exchanges, expanding to fill the gaps or simply refiling with revised pricing requests.

Maryland was the second state I analyzed; I originally came up with the following average:

UPDATE: As I've been warning for months, at least one of Maryland's carriers has openly stated that perhaps 40% of their requested rate hike is due specifically to concerns about the Trump administration & the GOP's ongoing sowing of confusion and outright sabotage of the ACA and the individual market.

Maryland is the 2nd state to post their initial 2018 rate filings.

Last year they had 6 carriers participating in the individual market; this year it looks like all 6 are still planning to participate:

  • CareFirst Blue Choice, Inc​
  • CareFirst of Maryland Inc.
  • Group Hospitalization and Medical Services Inc. (GHMSI)
  • Cigna Health and Life Insurance Co.​​
  • Evergreen Health, Inc.​​
  • Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States​​

The initial 2018 filings for four of the six carriers are pretty straightforward. Two of them are a bit tricky, though: Kaiser Permanente and Evergreen Health.

After New York and Washington State, Maryland is the 3rd state to release their final official OE4 enrollment numbers:

NEARLY 158,000 MARYLANDERS ENROLLED IN HEALTH COVERAGE FOR 2017 THROUGH THE STATE MARKETPLACE

INCLUDING MEDICAID, 501,000 HAVE ENROLLED SINCE NOV. 1

BALTIMORE (Feb. 1, 2017) – A total of 157,637 Marylanders enrolled in private health coverage plans for 2017 by yesterday’s deadline for open enrollment, capped by the largest single-day call volume ever for Maryland Health Connection, the state’s health insurance marketplace.

Including Medicaid enrollments, more than a half-million Marylanders have newly enrolled or renewed in health coverage for 2017 through the state marketplace since Nov. 1 when open enrollment began. Maryland Health Connection now covers 1.1 million in all — one of every six people in Maryland.

Hmmm...I'm honestly not sure what this last number (1.1 million covered by the exchange) refers to...they just said it was 158K QHPs + 343K in Medicaid = 501K total.

Quickly before I leave for the evening: Just received the 12/15 enrollment number from the Maryland exchange:

  • 148,610 QHP selections total
  • 87,009 of these are auto-renewals
  • This is slightly ahead of last year's 12/15 tally

Will add to spreadsheet/etc. later this evening.

Nice catch by ME: This is actually slightly lower than last year as of the same date.

Maryland still hasn't posted an official enrollment data report for the 2017 Open Enrollment Period, but they did reveal a pretty impressive rough enrollment number yesterday:

About 130,0000 Marylanders have signed up so far for insurance plans for 2017 through marylandhealthconnection.gov. Open enrollment began Nov. 1 and lasts through January, though people who want insurance starting Jan. 1 must be signed up by Thursday. About 163,000 people were enrolled in private plans this year, an increase of 33 percent from 2015.

The article was posted yesterday (12/12), so I assume the 130K figure is as of 12/11. I'm fairly certain that this includes auto-renewals, seeing how last year their 12/15 tally stood at 150K including all renewals (both passive and automatic).

It's difficult to do an exact apples to apples comparison, however, since enrollments should be ramping up dramatically during these final few days before the 12/15 deadline, so I'm not gonna try.

I haven't written a single word about Maryland since early October. Last year their ACA exchange was very good about posting fairly regular enrollment updates; this year they've been dead silent about it so far, which is rather surprising (and no, I don't think it's because their numbers are bad...every other state I have data for seems to be doing pretty well or even better than last year so far).

Anyway, there's one bit of news out of the Old Line State (yes, I had to look it up to find out what their nickname is) today which is disappointing but not surprising when you understand the circumstances:

The Maryland Insurance Administration barred Evergreen Health from selling health insurance policies for individuals until federal and state regulators decide whether to allow the cooperative to convert to a for-profit insurer and receive a much-needed cash infusion.

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