eHealth is hoping to be a much bigger player when the exchanges re-open for business Nov. 15. During the first open-enrollment period, eHealth and other online brokers were largely unable to sign up people who qualified for subsidies because of technological problems.
That was a major business deterrent for eHealth because nearly 90% of individuals who enrolled in coverage through HealthCare.gov qualified for subsidies, according to the CMS. Gary Lauer, eHealth's CEO, is hoping he will be able to reach those customers when the exchanges re-open for business this year.
“If eHeatlh could capture even a fractional share of application activity in the subsidy eligible market like we did in the non-subsidy eligible market, our application growth rates could meaningfully appreciate,” Lauer said on a call with investors Thursday to discuss third-quarter earnings.
eHealth had revenues of $41.2 million in the third quarter of this year, a decrease of 2% from the same period in 2013. Income for the quarter was $1.5 million, up from $200,000 during the comparable period a year ago.
The bulk of eHealth's revenues came from commissions. Those revenues totaled $36.2 million for the quarter, compared with $36 million for the third quarter of 2013.
Total membership at the close of the quarter was 1,158,100, a 1% increase over 2013. Individual and family-plan membership was 653,700, down more than 100,000 from a year earlier. But Medicare membership increased by 42%, reaching 121,300.
Applications for family and individual memberships were down 81%. But Lauer blamed that on the fact that the open-enrollment period for exchanges doesn't start until Nov. 15. That means only individuals with life-changing circumstances, such as having a kid, were able to sign up for coverage during the third quarter.
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company hopes to be ready to do a large volume of business when the marketplaces re-open for business. Lauer stressed, however, that they will be reliant on the functionality of HealthCare.gov and the state-based web sites to get people signed up.
“So far, so good,” he said. “We're two weeks away. We've got our fingers crossed that there's nothing unexpected that happens with HealthCare.gov.”
Follow Paul Demko on Twitter: @MHpdemko