Econintersect: The U.S. Deptartment of Health and Human Services (HHS) say that 2.1 million have obtained health insurance through PPACA (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) HIXs (health insurance exchanges) since October 1 2013, and another 3.9 million have been determined to be eligible for coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in October and November. Data was not released for Medicaid and CHIP for December. How many of the more than 6 million had previous insurance coverage has not been announced.
HHS is reporting the number of policies issued but not the number paid. The deadline for payments is January 10 or later so the number of paid policies will probably not be known until some time in February.
Also not known are the number of previously insured are no longer covered. An indeterminate number lost coverage during the fall which was often attributed to the implementation of Obamcare, even by some of the insurance companies involved. However, there has always been a turnover due to policies not being renewed and Econintersect has not seen a determination of how 2013 compared to previous years.
The turnover each year must be significant because it is generally accepted that the grandfathering of policies held on 23 March 2010 was a hollow guarantee; Few of the policies in existence on that date were still in force 3 1/2 years later. Some or many individual polices were modified or replaced in the interim. Again Econontersect is still looking for a study that documents the magnitude of this affect.
On 31 October 2013 CBS News said that more than 2 million people had lost their health insurance.
On 07 November 2013 McClatchy published a news story saying that tens of million could be “forced out of health insurance they had.” That statement was based on the premise (likely, in the opinion of Econintersect) that many employer plans would be changing in addition to insurance companies making changes in plans they would offer in the individual market.
That is a lot of change but probably much of it orderly and non-stressful to employees of most companies, particularly the tens of millions who work for larger corporations.
The CBS story probably was a better assessment of the true dislocations in the marketplace.
Econintersect repeats its disappointment in finding no assessment of how 2 million individual policy terminations in 2013 compares to recent years. Also throughout the fall there was limited information published about how many individual policy cancellations were followed by replacement policy offers and how the coverage and premiums compared with those cancelled.
There is also no reported data found by Econintersect on the experience of individuals with cancelled policies obtaining new coverage thro ACA HIXs.
On 20 December 2013 Life Health Pro reported that the government estimated that less than 500,000 had failed to find replacement coverage for cancelled individual policies by that date. For coverage to be effective on 01 January the deadline for making an application was only two days after the report. However, the open enrollment period continues until the end of March so additional “orphans” may be covered before then.
The lack of credible information and the abundance of both widespread anecdotal reporting and incompletely specified estimates, such as the “tens of millions“, “more than 2 million” and “less than 500,000” have been a disservice to the American public.
The government’s release of numbers totalling “more than 6 million” at year end without any way to assess how many in that number are for previously uncovered people does little to help with an assessment of just where the health insurance situation stands.
Will we know any more in the second quarter? The third quarter?
- Nationwide Enrollment for Health Care Coverage Surged in December (Marilyn Tavenner, Administrator, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, HHS.gov/HealthCare, 31 December 2013)
- HHS: 2.1 million enroll in exchange plans (Alex Wayne, Life Health Pro, 02 January 2014)
- Obamacare: More than 2 million people getting booted from existing health insurance plans (CBS News, 31 October 2013)
- Analysis: Tens of millions could be forced out of health insurance they had (Kevin G. Hall and Anita Kumar, McClatchy News, 07 November 2013)
- CMS sees 500,000 stranded health policyholders (Julie Pace, Life Health Pro, 20 December 2013