Enrollment on the state’s health insurance exchange dropped by about 200 people from the preliminary December totals after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services released final numbers Thursday for the 2019 open enrollment period.
In total, 83,449 Nevadans signed up for plans through the state’s health insurance exchange between Nov. 1 and Dec. 15, down about 7,500 from the 91,003 people who signed up over the same time period last year. The final total reflects a small drop from the preliminary 83,647 total released by CMS in December.
Heather Korbulic, executive director of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange, attributed the decrease between the preliminary and final totals in large part to Nevadans who decided to opt out of the auto-enrollment process on the exchange near the end of the open enrollment period. She also said some people may have also not completed their application before the end of the deadline, lowering the final totals.
“A ton of shifting happens during that last week,” Korbulic said.
She said the exchange plans to conduct an analysis into why the number of Nevadans who signed up for plans through the exchange this year dropped over last year’s numbers, though she noted that roughly 83,500 enrollees is still “not a small number.”
“That’s a significant portion of Nevadans who are still accessing insurance and the exchange remains an important part of their lives,” Korbulic said.
She added that insurance brokers, navigators and other enrollment professionals have told her anecdotally that an increasing number of small businesses have been offering employer-sponsored plans to their workers, which may be decreasing the need for those workers to seek health insurance coverage on the exchange.
To that end, the Division of Insurance sent out a request to all insurance companies to provide information about how many people are enrolled in large group, small group, short-term, and individual market health insurance plans. Korbulic said the information will allow the state to determine where Nevadans are getting their health insurance coverage and where the shift, if any, has occurred.
She’s hopeful that the data will show a shift out of the individual market and into other comprehensive health insurance plans and not that Nevadans have chosen to forego health insurance entirely. If they have, data the exchange will receive from CMS in March will allow for further analysis of which groups saw the most significant declines in coverage and why.
Over the course of the enrollment period, Korbulic expressed concerns that fewer people might seek coverage on the exchange this year because of additional challenges, including the expansion of health plans with skimpier coverage, telemarketing scams, misinformation about a new federal rule change and the repeal of a health insurance mandate penalty. The data from CMS will, for instance, allow the state to determine whether younger, healthier adults chose to forego coverage because of the elimination of the individual mandate penalty.
“There’s a lot of pieces that need to come together before we can draw any real conclusions,” Korbulic said. “But ultimately, I think for the most part it’s a positive story from what I’m gathering about the job market and the improving environment for employees getting access to employer-sponsored coverage.”