Feds, payers and states brace for ACA open enrollment


The second enrollment period for coverage made possible by the Affordable Care Act is approaching fast, and this brings two major challenges for states, insurers and the Obama administration: How does the marketplace retain enrollees while bringing respectable numbers of new people into the tent?  

"This year, we have to walk and chew gum at the same time," Enroll America president Anne Filipic told the Wall Street Journal. "There are millions who did not enroll [whom] we need to reach and get in the door, and millions who got coverage and aren't sure what to expect."

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that 13 million people will use the exchanges to buy products with 2015 effective dates, WSJ reported. About eight million people enrolled through the marketplace last year, and about 7.3 million paid premiums as of mid-AugustFierceHealthPayer previously reported. 

A nationwide enrollment effort is mounting. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, for example, is staffing "a mobile recreational vehicle" at community events to coach the public on available plans. The California exchange, Covered California, launched a $46 million ad campaign featuring stories of what health insurance has meant to new enrollees. And in waiting rooms of Utah hospitals and clinics, bookmarks in English and Spanish direct patients to navigators for face-to-face enrollment help, the WSJ reported.

One problem with coverage expansion is that people will get different directions on how to renew based on where they live, the WSJ added. Renewals may be passive or active. Most people who enrolled through HealthCare.gov, for example, will automatically be renewed in their plans, though officials encourage people to revisit the site, update their incomes and comparison shop. But some states will require customers to revisit their sites and re-enroll.

Another concern is whether HealthCare.gov can bear the load of millions of people making coverage changes on the site while millions of others try to sign up through it by the Dec. 15 deadline. However, a revised application form with fewer pages, questions and screens to navigate may ease enrollment through the site, as FierceHealthPayer reported.   

For more:
- read the WSJ article

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