Reports are already circulating about glitches at the preview version of the new and improved HealthCare.gov exchange plan enrollment system.
Some of the websites of the surviving state-based exchanges are eerily quiet, and it might be that the silence is a sign of glitches to come.
Meanwhile, as the Nov. 15 start date of the second annual Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) exchange system open enrollment period and professional all-star website wrestling season approaches, benefits professionals are suiting up.
Rone George, a benefits enroller and the chief executive officer of the Healthcare Awareness Foundation, is trying to attract business, and improve the enrollment process, by positioning himself as a national enrollment process improvement advocate.
Steve Auerbach, chief executive officer of Alegeus, a benefits administration firm, is hoping to use the holes left by PPACA, and ongoing increases in health care and health insurance costs, to boost sales of personal health account programs, such as health savings accounts (HSAs) and flexible spending arrangements (FSAs).
Frank Saltzburg, an agent who serves the individual and small group markets at Healthcare Solutions Team, has gotten himself designated a Certified Health Care Reform Specialist, will be serving as a certified exchange agent, and serving consumers with a system that lets him compare public exchange and off-exchange plans side by side.
Here’s a look at what they’re saying about the fall benefits sales season.
1. The personal health account business looks great.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) tweaked the much-loathed FSA use-it-or-lose-it rule to let consumers roll some unused account cash over at the end of the year.
The IRS and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) may not love HSAs, but they keep adopting rules that let HSAs live, and many of the PPACA exchange plans themselves are, really, high-deductible health insurance plans.
At Alegeus, Auerbach says the future in the FSA, HSA and wellness program sectors look bright.
“Certainly, rising health care costs and the overall shift to consumer responsibility are driving up adoption in all of these categories,’ Auerbach says.
It’s too early to know how the new FSA rollover rules will affect the FSA universe, but “we see double-digit growth in enrollment and contributions from those that embrace it,” Auerbach says.
Similarly, PPACA changes, employer health benefits cost growth and the rise of the private health insurance exchanges are all driving up HSA adoption, Auerbach says.
See also: 5 big changes employers will make to health care plans in 2015