January 2014

Josh Elliott-Traficante

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, a total of 11,446 New Hampshire residents have selected a health insurance plan through the Federal Exchange. This represents a net increase of 9,877 in the month of December.

Since open enrollment began, the federal exchange has received 19,441 applications from Granite Staters for insurance coverage for 30,204 individuals. Of these thirty some odd thousand, 26,621 were ruled eligible to get policies on the exchange, with just over half (13,516 to be exact) qualifying for subsidies.

For the first time, the Department of Health and Human Services, in addition to enrollment numbers, released the breakdowns of the types of plans being purchased, as well as the percentages receiving subsidies. On the exchange, plans are ranked by metal: Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum, with Bronze being the least expensive.

Bronze

Silver

Gold

Platinum

New Hampshire

22%

57%

21%

n/a

Of the 11,446 newly covered, 72% are receiving subsidized coverage, while the remaining 28% are not. Given the distribution of the completed applications, it appears that the percentage of those getting subsidies will decrease, while those not, will increase. However, it remains to be seen if all of those completed applications will result in the selection of a plan.

For the first time, the Department of Health and Human Services has released demographic data about the people who have selected plans on the exchange. New Hampshire has largely mirrored the nation as a whole in terms of gender and age breakdowns.

<18

18-25

26-34

34-44

45-54

55-64

>65

18-34

NH

4%

7%

15%

13%

23%

38%

0%

22% 

Death Spiral?

Garnering the most attention in the recent enrollment report was the percentage of enrollees between the ages of 18 and 34. Nationally, 24% of enrollees were in this age bracket (vs 22% in NH). 40%, however, has generally been regarded as the critical number for Obamacare to work as planned. With 40% belonging to the 18-34 age group, there are enough young and healthy people in the pool to keep down prices and cross subsidize older enrollees. The ‘Death Spiral’ occurs when too few of this group enroll, forcing prices to increase, leading health people to drop insurance due to the cost, forcing rates even higher, continuing the cycle.

The non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation has done some work on the issue of young adult enrollment and used 25% as a worst case scenario. Under that scenario, the cost of plans would be roughly 2.4% higher than the charged premiums.  That of course would necessitate a hike of in premiums the following year to make up the short fall, on top of any healthcare inflation. Kaiser researchers do not see this as being enough to trigger a death spiral, although the critical enrollment level to spark the Death Spiral is disputed.

6 replies
    • Joshua Elliott-Traficante
      Joshua Elliott-Traficante says:

      Hi Ray, great question; it does not. DHHS has not released any information as to how many people have actually paid their premiums.

      Nationally, insurance carriers have seen roughly 80% of the newly enrolled pay, but I haven’t come across any NH specific information. The law stipulates that those who don’t pay must be carried by the companies for 3 months before they can be kicked off.

      Reply
    • Joshua Elliott-Traficante
      Joshua Elliott-Traficante says:

      Hi Ernie, thanks for the question.

      For plans available in NH, deductibles range from:
      5,000-6,000 for Bronze
      1,750-3,000 for Silver
      1,500 for Gold.

      In regards to your other question, the data available doesn’t give any dollar figures for the subsidies.

      Reply

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