Good news everybody

Covered California is reporting some good enrollment numbers for coverage effective February 1st.

And the preliminary total of enrollments in Covered California health insurance plans from Oct. 1, 2013, through Jan. 15, 2014, has increased to more than 625,000….

Covered California™ and the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) announced today that 500,108 Californians enrolled for health insurance and selected plans through the end of 2013

 soaring past November’s enrollment of 78,377…

California added 125,000 individuals between January 1st and January 15th to Exchange plans.  These people will receive coverage starting February 1st. 

I want to pick out a couple of important notes.  First, enrollment is deadline driven so a significant drop-off between enrollment before Dec. 24th and Jan. 15th was expected.  Secondly, if I am reading the statement correctly, the 125,000 people signed up only signed up in January, so it is a monthly pace of a quarter million people or 8,000 people a day.  That is more than triple Covered California’s November pace.  Covered California did not have significant website issues suppressing the enrollment in November.

And now onto some extrapolations and suppositions:

1) Doing a linear population weighted extrapolation, the February 1st coverage national cohort could be a million or more people.

2) I’m betting the risk pool for Covered California got a little bit healthier and a little bit younger than the 4th quarter 2013 enrollment risk pool.

3) I’m also betting narrow networks were more frequently chosen.  This is a bet based on the assumption that people with the highest known healthcare needs have mostly already signed up.  These people had pre-established relationships with providers and they’re willing to pay extra to keep those relationships intact.  If the risk pool is younger and healthier, fewer people will have frequent contact with the medical care system, so more people will be shopping primarily on price instead of network.

4) February 20th to March 15th will be massive.

16 replies
  1. 1
    MomSense says:

    Great news!

  2. 2
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Thank the good Lord I live in a Dog fearing state like Missouri where we still treasure our freedoms and have elected state officials who will be ever vigilant against such enslavement. Why, if I lived in a socialist hell like California, I might be denied the lung cancer I have rightfully earned thru a life time of smoking low tax cigarettes.

  3. 3
    madmommy says:

    The other day hubby brought home a survey from work asking employees to choose between the current HMO plan they now offer or a high-deductible, lower premium plan with an option for an HSA. He gave it to me saying he thought switching was a great idea. After reading it my opinion is it is a great idea-for the parish! He works for parish government, so their pool of employees in the plan is rather large. Despite this in the 14 years we’ve been married I’ve seen them go from offering 3-4 different HMO/PPO plans to only one HMO and now this. There was nothing in the letter specifically referencing the ACA but since this is gawd-fearing Louisiana and our elected officials are insistent on making sure as many people as possible get sick and die quickly I’m sure that will be the rationale behind switching plans. Am I wrong in thinking that this new plan is a bad deal for most families? There will be a 3K family deductible, but the employee premiums will only be going down around $100-$200 depending on which coverage (single/spouse/family) ?

  4. 4
    the Conster says:


    My husband and I have been on an HSA for 3 years, and at first I didn’t like it but it can be used for dentists and eyeglasses, and it’s your money – it’s another way to save for retirement since it doesn’t need to be spent by the end of each year. It does favor higher income individuals for those out of pocket expenses, but with our very low premium we know that since we’re both relatively healthy we’re not paying for services we’re not using.

  5. 5
    Patricia Kayden says:


    Good for California. For some strange reason, the Maryland Exchange website was messed up. Hopefully, it’s fixed by now.

  6. 6
    JayinCA says:

    I’m working for Covered California. Latest numbers had the 24 – 34 year old enrollment rate through January 15 as 26% of enrollments. That’s up from Nov – Dec (21%), but definitely the risk pool is younger and healthier. Projections seem to believe that those young folk are prone to delaying enrollment, and are expected to sign up in greater numbers before open enrollment end, March 31st.

  7. 7
    madmommy says:

    @the Conster:
    Well, we have dental coverage as well as medical-hubby and the kids are on his plan, I am on my work plan. Taking me off his plan cut our premium in half, and since I could get coverage at a better price at my work that was a no-brainer for us. My worry is with 2 boys (10 & 13) the odds of pricey medical situations is higher for us and covering a 3K deductible would bust a rather large hole in the family budget. It just seems to me that they are pushing this plan to the employees when for most families it would not be a significant savings and could be a problem. Of course the parish is getting a much better deal so it is good for them!

    Another question I have is can we switch to coverage through the ACA even though we are offered coverage through our work? Or would we have to wait for the parish/state to offer such a crap plan that it would no longer be considered adequate?

  8. 8
    Mnemosyne says:


    You can switch to an exchange plan any time BUT you would not be eligible for a subsidy unless your company’s plan is not considered adequate — you would end up paying full price on the exchange.

    The devil is really in the details with high-deductible plans. If your kids are accident-prone, then it would definitely be a bad deal. If anyone takes a daily medication, it’s probably a bad deal.

    You can see here what the covered (at no cost/co-pay) benefits are for kids if that helps you — all of those are things that you’re not supposed to be charged for and don’t go to your deductible.

  9. 9
    Richard Mayhew says:

    @madmommy: You can always switch to an Exchange plan. However if one or more people in the family unit are offered affordable (deemed to be 9.5% or less of family income for single coverage) and qualified health insurance through an employer, no one in the family can get subsidies on the Exchange.

  10. 10
    madmommy says:

    @Mnemosyne: @Richard Mayhew:
    Thank you both for the info! I had gone on the website back in December to see what was out there and even here in Louisiana there were quite a few options that looked quite decent for the price. So far we’ve been lucky with the kids as far as injuries/illness goes (knock wood!) but one did have a broken arm that required surgery and the other is on allergy medication and is looking at a tonsillectomy in the near future. And glasses and braces!

  11. 11
    Leah says:


    As a loyal BJ reader and only an occasional commentator, let me take this first opportunity to thank-you for your excellent and so helpful commentaries.

    Today, I’m interested to know if you have any thoughts about TARGET”s announcement that it would no longer offer Health Insurance to their part-time employees; the company spokesperson did note that knowing that many of their workers could get subsidies on ACA exchanges influenced the decisions along with the low enrollment numbers for their own part-timer insurance package.

    The tone of the announcement seems one of embracing the ACA rather than blaming it. Naturally, the right-wing blogs are busy framing it as yet another Obamacare failure. As a single payer enthusiast who nonetheless thinks we have to make the ACA work, I instinctively feel better about seeing a shift like this from an employer based benefit to the exchanges, but perhaps I’m wrong to feel that way.

    Again, thank-you for making all of us a good deal more knowledgeable about our own and the country’s health care.

  12. 12
    Richard Mayhew says:

    @madmommy: Braces are most likely not covered by health insurance (there is a few odd cases that they might be, but don’t count on it.)

    Glasses might be covered as an Essential Health Benefit — I’m not sure.

  13. 13
    imonlylurking says:

    @Richard Mayhew: Braces usually have coverage under dental. The only coverage for teeth under regular medical is for emergency care. At least, that’s how my insurance has always done it.

    I’m seeing similar changes. I knew my insurance was the best but I didn’t realize just how good it was. My company is pushing HARD for people to move to an HSA. I’ll be spending this year preparing for it-the deductible isn’t too bad but it’s a lot for somebody not used to a deductible at all.

    My big issue is the refusal to cover Advair as of January 1-it’s 300 a month! I’m being offered the choice of Dulara or Symbicort-I’m testing Dulara now and it’s not too impressive. I’ll give it a try for the full month, then I have a visit with my asthma doc to discuss what to do next. I’ve been on Symbicort and I don’t recall it being all that great, but I may need to try it again before the doc and I decide what to do.

    At least I don’t have to worry about the narrow network problem.

  14. 14
    Mnemosyne says:


    I’m guessing that a LOT of Target part-timers are eligible for Medicaid. IIRC, Target will have to pay a penalty to the government depending on how many of their employees sign up on the exchanges, so they won’t be getting off scott-free.

  15. 15
    Matt McIrvin says:

    Hey, what is this “Medicaid is secretly a loan” business that has been boiling about blog comment sections? The grain of truth in it appears to have something to do with claims on the estates of people over 55 who are on Medicaid. It seems to be turning into a major right-wing talking point, but the stories about what’s actually going on are very confusing.

  16. 16
    Larkspur says:

    @JayinCA: I don’t have cable TV at home, but I was house-sitting over the holidays and caught a few of the Covered California TV ads. They are short, catchy, and nicely up-beat in appealing to younger people. The one I’m thinking of shows a young mountain biker wiping out on a trail. You can’t tell if he’s really hurt, but that’s the point: he might be okay, he might have some bruises, or he might have broken his shoulder or leg, and that’s why you want health insurance. You may be years away from worrying about Type 2 diabetes or gout, but you still need insurance. It makes the point nicely.

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