Sunday, January 21, 2024

How has the Medicaid unwinding affected various states' ACA marketplace enrollment?

 Note: All xpostfactoid subscriptions are now through Substack alone (still free), though I will continue to cross-post on this site. If you're not subscribed, please visit xpostfactoid on Substack and sign up!

My last post stressed that ACA enrollment growth in the Open Enrollment Period for 2024 remains heavily concentrated in states that have refused to enact the ACA Medicaid expansion.

I might have pointed out, though, that the main divide in growth rates is between the 32 states and the 19 state-based marketplaces (SBMs). The difference in year-over-year enrollment growth as of Dec. 23 between expansion and nonexpansion states within the universe is not large -- 42.1% vs. 35.6%, according to Charles Gaba. Last year, the gap was bigger: enrollment in the nonexpansion states on increased by 22.7% in OEP 2023, vs. 9.9% in expansion states on the platform (Gaba). There was a similarly wide spread in growth rates in OEP 2022.

The Medicaid “unwinding” — the resumption in April 2023 of Medicaid redeterminations and disenrollments after a three-year pandemic-induced moratorium — is a major factor in this year’s enrollment gains. As of September, CMS reported that about 1.2 million Medicaid disenrollees (about 13% of the disenrolled) had enrolled in the marketplace (or in the Basic Health Programs available to low-income enrollees in New York and Minnesota) from April through September. As Medicaid disenrollments have now passed 15 million (!), close to 2 million by now may have landed in marketplace plans or the BHPs, accounting for perhaps 40% of enrollment growth.

That boost to enrollment is apparently at work in expansion and nonexpansion states alike. Of the 16 states with growth rates above the median, eight are expansion and eight are nonexpansion states. Again, expansion states are sharing more in this year’s strong enrollment growth than in prior post-pandemic years. The Medicaid unwinding may partly explain that. While growth rates remain lower in the SBM states (all of which have expanded Medicaid) than in states, strong enrollment growth (13.8%) has resumed in the SBM group in 2024 after remaining basically flat last year.

In my last post, with respect to the Medicaid unwinding, I wrote:

…state Medicaid disenrollment rates don’t clearly correlate with expansion/nonexpansion status or marketplace enrollment rates (at least not obviously; perhaps researchers will tease out significant relationships in years to come).

Here I want to take a look at another measure of the potential impact of the Medicaid unwinding on marketplace enrollment in OEP 2024: The extent to which the migration of Medicaid disenrollees into the marketplace during the off-season boosted each given state’s marketplace enrollment. CMS has tracked those enrollments, from April through September 2023, in the Medicaid Marketplace Unwinding Report. I’ve confined my focus to the 32 states using, as state-based marketplaces are quite a various lot, both in market conditions and reporting.

Thursday, January 18, 2024

ACA marketplace enrollment up 135%-plus since 2020 in nonexpansion states; may approach 100% in all states

Note: All xpostfactoid subscriptions are now through Substack alone (still free), though I will continue to cross-post on this site. If you're not subscribed, please visit xpostfactoid on Substack and sign up!

Marketplace enrollment in nonexpansion states is up 135% since 2020. Drink!

Updated 1/24/24

Politico’s Ben Leonard and Chelsea Cirruzzo, noting that ACA marketplace enrollment during the Open Enrollment Period (OEP) for 2024 was already up 25% over the final OEP 2023 tally as of December 23 (with OEP still running), locate the surge geographically:

So far, states in the South and the Rust Belt have had among the highest rates of enrollment growth between 2023 and 2024 plan years, according to a POLITICO analysis of HHS data.

Louisiana and West Virginia have the highest growth rates — about 63 percent each…Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas all had growth rates between 36 and 52 percent.

That is no surprise as to the southern states — for which, read primarily “states that have refused to enact the ACA Medicaid expansion.” While Louisiana is an expansion state, as are the three “rust belt states” cited above, the “nonexpansion” states have driven the marketplace’s surging enrollment growth throughout the pandemic years, as I’ve noted previously with respect to OEP 2021, OEP 2022, and OEP 2023. Every state marketplace is different, and enrollment in a given state may rise or fall in a given year or cluster of years for myriad reasons, but since OEP 2021, the shrinking pool of nonexpansion states (there were 14 in OEP 2021, 10 at present) have accounted for the vast majority of net new enrollments (75% of net new enrollments this year). That’s largely because of sustained growth in behemoths Florida and Texas, which together account for about a third of all marketplace enrollment.

The table below shows enrollment growth from 2020-2024 in the ten states that had not expanded Medicaid as of November 1, 2023, the beginning of OEP 2024. North Carolina enacted its Medicaid expansion beginning December 1, but the migration of low-income marketplace enrollees to Medicaid does not yet show up in the enrollment tallies, so I’ve included North Carolina in the nonexpansion state group. Note also that the totals for OEP 2024 run only through December 23, 2023, while OEP ended on January 16, 2024 in the 32 states using and is still running in several state-based marketplaces. Charles Gaba estimates that the final tally for OEP 2024 will rise by another 1-2 million, or 5-11%.  [Update, 1/24/24: CMS released the final enrollment snapshot for states today. National totals are near-complete, with perhaps 20,000 additional enrollees likely to be tallied in SBMs by the end of the month. I have updated the table below; for the record, the original table, with 2024 tallies through Dec. 24, is preserved at bottom.]

Sunday, January 14, 2024

New York's ACA alchemy: marketplace silver to Essential Plan platinum

Note: All xpostfactoid subscriptions are now through Substack alone (still free), though I will continue to cross-post on this site. If you're not subscribed, please visit xpostfactoid on Substack and sign up!

Greener pastures for New Yorkers of a certain income

New York has a pending ACA Section 1332 updated waiver proposal to CMS that would extend eligibility for the Essential Plan, the state’s zero-premium, low-out-of-pocket cost health insurance program, to applicants with incomes up to 250% of the Federal Poverty Level ($36,450 for an individual, $75,000 for a family of four) in April 2024.

The economics of the program appear to defy gravity, and perhaps suggest lessons as to the public funding of health benefits in the United States.

Shedding “Medicaid-ish” payment rates

As currently structured, New York's Essential Plan is a Basic Health Program, an option for states established by Section 1331 the Affordable Care Act. A BHP is a health coverage program for state residents with incomes up to 200% FPL offered in place of standard ACA marketplace coverage. The implicit premise of Section 1331 is that BHPs will pay lower rates to providers and plow those savings into reducing premiums and out-of-pocket costs for enrollees — rather like Medicaid.

The Essential Plan currently provides coverage with an actuarial value of 98% to enrollees with income up to 150% FPL, compared to 94% for benchmark silver coverage in conventional marketplaces, and an AV of 92% to enrollees in the 150-200% FPL income bracket, compared to 87% in the marketplace. The plan has no deductibles at any income level and includes dental and vision coverage. Plan benefits are standardized.

Monday, January 01, 2024

2023: Understanding a maturing ACA marketplace

 Note: All xpostfactoid subscriptions are now through Substack alone (still free), though I will continue to cross-post on this site. If you're not subscribed, please visit xpostfactoid on Substack and sign up!

Not exactly New Year's fireworks, but the closest equivalent in my photos

Another blogging year goes to the archives. As the years go by it seems I write fewer and fewer posts and spend more and more time on each of them. I’d like to think that means the posts are getting better, but I wouldn’t swear to it.

Perhaps it’s fair to say my understanding of the ACA marketplace is maturing as the marketplace matures. A few themes in this year’s posting flesh that idea out:

  • I have long been concerned with CSR takeup — that is, how many low-income enrollees (that is, a majority of marketplace enrollees) obtain coverage that makes actual care affordable. Since ARPA rendered at least two CSR-enhanced silver plans free for enrollees with income up to 150% FPL and available for no more than 2% of income for those in the 150-200% FPL income range, I have been disappointed to note that silver plan selection at low incomes has not improved as I anticipated, and this March I noted that CSR takeup went backwards in 2023. I then added a spotlight on CSR takeup in states that have not expanded Medicaid, where the vast bulk of enrollees eligible for free CSR silver live. Perhaps more interestingly, following hints from brokers and those who work with them, I examined markets in which some enrollees might have cause to forgo the CSR benefit with eyes wide open, sacrificing low out-of-pocket costs to obtain a more robust provider network or other benefits.