Thursday, June 30, 2016

ACA Marketplace snapshot: Bronze plan enrollees drop plans at higher rate than silver plan holders

CMS just released its "attrition report" for the ACA marketplace -- that is, its first snapshot of "effectuated enrollment" as of March 31 after tallying total plan selections at the end of open enrollment on Feb. 1.

The drop is comparable to last year's as of March 31: enrollment is down from 12.7 million to 11.1 million. That is, it's down 13%. As CMS points out, enrollments took place earlier on average this year, so enrollees had somewhat longer to drop out by 3/31.

As I always keep an eye on takeup of Cost Sharing Reduction (CSR) subsidies, available only with silver plans, I was interested to note that as the smoke cleared, the overall rate of silver plan enrollment for the whole marketplace rose markedly, from 67.1% on Feb. 1 to 69.7% as of March 31. The percentage of enrollees in bronze plans went down, from 22.6% to 21.9%.

While bronze enrollment dropped 15.5%, from 2,873,422 to 2,427,337. Silver dropped just 9.3%, from 8,520,787 to 7,721,983.  It makes sense that more people would drop bronze plans, with their deductibles typically north of $6,000 per person. Similarly, by March 31 of last year, bronze enrollment had dropped 15.9% since the end of open enrollment, compared to 11.5% for silver. By June 30, 2015,  bronze was down 18.6%,, and silver 13.3%.

This year, then, silver attrition is 60% of bronze attrition, versus 70% last year. Last year, government audits of enrollees' income claims led to hundreds of thousands having their CSR (and premium) subsidies eliminated or reduced, though that drop was not reported until the enrollment snapshot for June 31, released last September. This year, better data matching has reduced such subsidy reductions by more than two thirds.  Perhaps the higher volume of data audits in 2015 induced a slightly higher proportion of silver plan enrollees to drop their plans, since a good proportion lost some or all of their CSR.

Updated 7/1.

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