HSRI: Health insurance enrollees up 10.5% in 2018

PROVIDENCE — The number of health insurance enrollees through the state’s Affordable Care Act exchange, Health Source RI, climbed to 33,021 in the final hours of Dec. 31, 10.5 percent higher than last year, with more than twice the number of new enrollees since last year, despite a few federal roadblocks.

As of Friday, there were 32,000 people signed up for health insurance through HSRI, with 1,021 signing up through the exchange in the final two days of the year. There were also 7,799 new enrollees this year, 2.3 times as many by Dec. 31, 2016, said Kyrie Perry, director of communications, marketing and outreach for HSRI.

The enrollment effort was challenged this year by President Donald Trump’s cancellation of advertising for the program and a shortened open enrollment period. HSRI countered those obstacles by buying their own advertising and extending open enrollment to Dec. 31, past the federal Dec. 23. deadline.

Last year’s enrollment total was 29,892.

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Similarly, on the federal level, the 39 states without state-based ACA exchanges tallied 8,743,642 enrollments this year, with 2,460,431 of them new enrollees. The total enrollees represented an increase of 37.6 percent while the number of new enrollees, customers who did not have 2017 Exchange coverage through Dec. 31, 2017, and selected a plan for 2018, grew 20.1 percent.

A BREAKDOWN OF 2018 enrollment in HealthSource RI at the open enrollment deadline. / COURTESY HEALTHSOURCE RI
A BREAKDOWN OF 2018 participation in HealthSource RI at the open enrollment deadline. / COURTESY HEALTHSOURCE RI

The latest RI tally is for people who selected a plan between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31, 2017, said Perry. The exchange will release its Final Open Enrollment figures Jan. 23.

Customers who began, but did not complete, the enrollment process before Dec. 31 will be able to finalize their 2018 enrollment process between Jan. 1 and Jan. 23, Perry said. She said HSRI has reached out to everyone eligible for the opportunity.

Customers must have selected and paid for 2018 plans to avoid tax penalties this year. While the Republican tax bill passed Dec. 20 zeroes out the ACA’s penalty for the uninsured in 2019, it’s still in effect in 2018.

Presently, the penalty for forgoing health insurance, known as the individual mandate, is $695 for a full year, or 2.5 percent of household income, whichever is larger. For each child younger than 18 without coverage, the penalty is $348.

More than 8.7 million enrolled in the ACA exchange in states that relied on the HealthCare.gov portal, down from 9.2 million one year prior.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services intends to release a detailed 2018 enrollment report in March, including final plan selection data from state-based exchanges that do not use the HealthCare.gov platform such as Rhode Island.

Rob Borkowski is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Borkowski@PBN.com.