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February Enrollment Report Shows Continued Strength

Last week we told you that more than 2.2 million people have enrolled in Covered California or Medi-Cal coverage from October 2013 to January 2014. Today we’ve got even more details.

In the first two weeks of February, over 100,000 people enrolled in the Exchange. That makes more than 828,000 in the Covered California, Meanwhile, Medi-Cal has enrolled over 1.5 million, between sign-ups through CalHEERS, the LIHP transition, Express Lane enrollment, and through county social services offices.

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With this great news come two disclaimers:

  1. When we say enrolled in Medi-Cal, we mean “found likely eligible.” Ultimately eligibility decisions fall upon the counties, so when someone is deemed eligible for Medi-Cal through the Covered California website/CalHEERS, their case is then referred to the counties for the final decision.
  2. When we say enrolled in Covered California, we mean selected a plan, not necessarily paid their premium. There isn’t much data so far about how many actually paid their bill for the first month and started coverage, but carriers claim it’s about 80%. Let’s hope this number increases as insurance companies and Covered California improve their invoice procedure and overall communications with customers.

The point here is that the metrics we use aren’t perfect, but they are the best we’ve got given the limitations of data collection and the structure of the ACA.  Anyway, back to the fun data review:

A number of enrollment trends have stabilized. Enrollments through December were 85% subsidized, increasing slightly to 86% subsidized through January. Last month saw a few more applications per day (17,627 vs. 16,572) compared to December. The distribution of carriers selected and age of individuals enrolled are essentially the same as the first three months. Tier selections remain similar, with slightly higher rates of Silver plan selection (61.9% cumulative vs. 60.6% through 2013).

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The demographics that have shifted include ethnicity and, to some extent, language spoken. Latino enrollment has improved, but is still lagging. Cumulatively, 21.4% of enrollees are Latino, while 28% of enrollments in January were Latino (compared to 18.7% through 2013). Spanish-speaking enrollment increased to 7%, from 5% in October through December. By no coincidence, today Covered California announced targeted outreach initiatives to boost Latino enrollment.

What’s clear here is there is plenty of demand. The average wait time for the call center is still over 45 minutes, as about 70,000 calls are coming in per week. The Exchange is staffing up, but clearly has room to grow. There are about 500,000 more applications submitted than enrollments completed, so Covered California has some following up to do. There are a lot of folks out there who need coverage – let’s get them enrolled. Only 40 more shopping days left until the open enrollment deadline.

See the full report on Covered California’s website.

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