The second annual Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) open enrollment period has been under way since Saturday, and, so far, the show has been a little calmer than fans of last year’s glitch-fest might have liked.
The exchange enrollment systems have generally worked well enough that reporters for general interest publications have moved on to covering other topics, such as Ebola and immigration policy shifts.
For a look at what some of the policy watchers and health insurance market players who are still caught up in the drama of trying to get people signed up for PPACA public exchange coverage are saying, read on.
1. The general American population is not jumping up and down with glee about the start of the second annual open enrollment period.
Gallup came out with results of a survey conducted a week before the enrollment period got under way. Gallup found that the percentage of tracking survey participants who agree that the federal government has a responsibility to provide health care coverage for all Americans has fallen to 52 percent, from a peak of 69 percent in 2006.
About 70 percent of the Democrats polled and 24 percent of the Republicans said the government should get everyone covered.
2. The early Web activity numbers, application counts and actual enrollment totals look good.
Enroll America — a field support organization for the exchange enrollers in the states with exchanges run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — says it’s already held 170 outreach and enrollment events and made contact with about 5,000 consumers. Group leaders said the HHS HealthCare.gov exchange enrollment website is working much better than it did early in the first open enrollment period. Group leaders have heard only a few reports of consumers seeing error messages, and many of those were related to password resets.
Turnout at enrollment events was strong and steady, and most people who enrolled at the events said they were enrolling in insurance for the first time, the group said.
ACASignups.net, an exchange tracking blog, says the exchanges had enrolled 28,526 people in “qualified health plan” (QHP) coverage as of Monday.
Rone George, a veteran voluntary benefits enroller, agreed that enrollment systems seem to be handling applications more quickly, without the crippling identity verification problems that slowed users a year ago.
3. Exchange watchers see problems with cost-sharing requirements in the new QHPs and lingering problems with exchange program administration.
HealthPockets says typical exchange plan users may face higher out-of-pocket costs than they realize. It found that the average family deductible will be $6,010 for on-exchange bronze plans and $10,545 for on-exchange bronze plans.
George said he thinks exchange call center reps could still be more efficient about how to resolve particular types of problems.
George said brokers can make the system work better simply by using a standard applicant intake form and keeping track of all application IDs.
In California, a consumer group told the Covered California board in a letter that many exchange users there are getting bewildering, inaccurate exchange notices written in the wrong language.