The Scoop: Health Insurance News – July 29, 2021 Edition

California’s COVID-19 Special Event Program has been extended until the end of August

In order to combat the COVID-19 epidemic, many of the state-run exchanges offered special enrollment periods this spring. This allowed uninsured individuals to enroll in health insurance even if they did not meet the qualifying criteria. In a handful of states, these enrollment windows continue to be open. California announced today that the enrollment period — originally scheduled to end on Friday — will now last until the end of August.

New Jersey legislators consider laws that could create additional state-funded subsidies

New Jersey lawmakers are considering laws that will make individual medical insurance more affordable in 2021, and in future years. S2676/A4389 would fund New Jersey’s existing reinsurance program, and create a premium subsidy program run by the state for those who earn up to 400 percent of poverty level.

Reinsurance makes protection more affordable for those who do not qualify for premium subsidies under the ACA. The additional state-funded subsidies will make it even cheaper for those who are already eligible for premium subsidies under the ACA. The extra subsidies will allow more enrollees to afford plans that have a higher actuarial value. The laws are designed to reduce the cost of insurance, decrease the number of uninsured, and close the racial gap in health care.

The committees in their respective chambers had accepted the payments earlier this week. A full floor vote could come as soon as tomorrow.

Missouri residents vote next week on Medicaid expansion

Missouri is one of the few states to not accept federal funding for Medicaid expansion under the ACA. Missouri adults without children are not eligible for Medicaid, no matter what their income is (until the age of 65, if they’re disabled, blind or pregnant), while parents or caregivers of minor children can only be eligible if their family’s revenue does not exceed 22 percent of poverty. For a family with three children, this amounts to $400 per month.

Voters in Missouri can change the current state of affairs if they vote on a Medicaid expansion initiative. This will be likely on the August 4th major poll. Oklahoma voters accepted Medicaid expansion for their state in June. In previous years, voters from Maine, Utah Idaho and Nebraska also accepted similar Medicaid growth poll initiatives.

On Saturday, eligible Nebraskans can begin enrolling in the expanded Medicaid program.

Nearly two years ago, Nebraska voters approved a Medicaid growth initiative. This Saturday, August 1st, the state will start accepting applications for expanded Medicaid coverage. The protection can begin in October. Medicaid coverage is available to Nebraska adults with family incomes up to 138 percent of poverty level under the expanded eligibility criteria. This amounts to approximately $17,609 per person this year. Medicaid eligibility is based on monthly income, so a person whose earnings have dropped due to a COVID related job loss may still be eligible for expanded Medicaid even if they had earned more than this amount earlier in the year.

HHS approves Pennsylvania Reinsurance Program

Last week, HHS approved a Pennsylvania Reinsurance proposal. This is expected to result in Pennsylvania Individual-Market Premiums being 5 percent lower in 2021. This only applies to premiums that are paid in full, not to premiums that can be offset with premium subsidies. Pennsylvania is one of the dozen states that are already using reinsurance programs to stabilize their individual markets.

Two insurers will affix “the marketplace” in Texas by 2021

Residents in certain areas of Texas may have more choices in terms of providers and plans when open enrollment starts in November. Friday Well being Plans of Colorado is joining the Texas market and will provide coverage in Austin, Dallas El Paso Houston Lubbock and San Antonio. Scott & White Well being Plan will also rejoin the Texas trade. The company, which previously offered protection in the market but switched to only off-exchange coverage after 2016, intends to return to the state’s trade.

The Texas insurance industry has filed proposed charges for 2021. The preliminary details can be found on SERFF. The proposed changes are mainly modest increases, but one company plans to reduce charges slightly for 2020. Others propose double-digit percentage increases of their rates.

Connecticut’s individual market insurers predict a 6.3% increase in the general common charge for 2021

In Connecticut, two insurers offer individual medical insurance. Their proposed general average charge increase for 2021 is 6.3%. This proposed fee enhance is primarily based on the anticipated impact of COVID-19.

Connecticut Insurance coverage Division is currently reviewing speed filings. Connecticut regulators sometimes accept charges that are lower than what the insurers initially proposed. Last year, insurers proposed a general average charge increase of 7.8 percent, but the insurance coverage division only accepted a median improvement of less than half of that amount.

Rhode Island’s individual market insurers propose a general charge increase of 5% in 2021

Rhode Island is home to two insurers that offer individual market health insurance. Both companies provide coverage in the state’s industry. The Rhode Island Office of the Insurance Commissioner released the 2021 coverage charge submission details earlier this week. Blue Cross Blue Protect of Rhode Island proposed a median charge enhance of 3,7 % for its individual market plans. Community Well being Plan proposed a median charge enhance of 5.5 percent. The weighted average proposed rate increase is approximately 5 percent for each insurer. State regulators are evaluating the speed proposals and they will be modified before finalization.

93.5 % of individuals who chose market plans during OEP were able to protect themselves.

CMS released the first snapshot of 2020 market protection enrollments last week. When the first premium is paid and the plan becomes effective, the health plan is considered to be “effectuated”. Some people who enroll during open enrollment do not actually use their coverage, so the actual enrollment number is always lower than the total enrollment. Andrew Sprung says that the difference between the number of plans available and those who actually use them has steadily decreased over the years.

The quantity of people who have been enrolled during open enrollment and then went on to activate their coverage is at its highest ever. The number of plan options during open enrollment for 2020 was a little bit lower than for 2019. However, the quantity of people with market coverage in February 2020 is greater than in February 2019

The CMS report released last week only shows effectuated registrations up to February. The current effectuated enrollment in the exchanges across the country is almost certainly higher than it was back in February. This is due to the migration of people from employer-sponsored coverage to individual market protection because of the COVID-19 Pandemic.