November 8, 2017 | Rosemarie Day

My Thoughts on Open Enrollment

We are one week into open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces. Given all of the confusion that has surrounded the ACA this year, I thought it would be good to share some of the things we are seeing around open enrollment, including some good news.

Starting with the good news, over a million people have checked out healthcare.gov and over 200,000 people have already selected plans, which is more selections than at this same point last year [1]. There are also positive signs from the state based marketplaces. While there are some good signs, there also some risks associated with this year’s open enrollment period.

3 Risks of this Year’s Open Enrollment:

blog 11-8 4There truly is confusion.

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[2]

Picture5Open enrollment period is going to be half of what it was last year and will last 6 weeks.

Picture6 Outreach funding has been significantly cut at the federal level.

Facts

  • Exchanges still exist and are open for business.
  • Insurers are selling plans in every single county in the US.
  • Despite the fact that many insurers had to raise their premiums, most people who buy insurance through the exchanges receive subsidies.
  • In many cases, people will receive subsidies that will allow them to enroll in a plan for no out of pocket cost.

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[3]

  • The individual mandate is still in place. Even though the individual mandate is not the main factor driving people to get health insurance (people actually want healthcare), the individual mandate will still have some effect in terms of getting people to sign up.

What to Watch:

  • We need to watch the numbers. Projections anticipate that about a million fewer people will enroll this year due to all of the risk factors above [4]. This is compared to the 12 million that enrolled last year.
  • We need to watch out for mixed messaging. There could still be confusing messages that come from the federal government throughout open enrollment.

Good News

The good news is that many people are motivated by deadlines so the shorter time period may not be such a damaging factor. Additionally, many people are going to automatically renew or are returning enrollees who are familiar with the process. The number of returning enrollees has grown each year.

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[5]

Because a number of promising factors like the ones above, we could see some strong numbers coming out of this open enrollment!

 

References:

[1] http://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/359011-obamacare-signups-surge-in-early-days-to-set-new-record 

[2] https://www.kff.org/health-reform/poll-finding/kaiser-health-tracking-poll-october-2017-experiences-of-the-non-group-marketplace-enrollees/

[3] https://www.kff.org/health-reform/issue-brief/how-premiums-are-changing-in-2018/

[4] http://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/hblog20171030.733625/full/

[5] https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2017-Fact-Sheet-items/2017-03-15.html ; https://aspe.hhs.gov/health-insurance-marketplaces-2016-open-enrollment-period-final-enrollment-report ; https://aspe.hhs.gov/pdf-report/health-insurance-marketplace-2015-open-enrollment-period-march-enrollment-report