The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) public health insurance exchange system came back to sales life Sunday.
The exchanges that use the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) HealthCare.gov system and the surviving state-based exchanges will be selling qualified health plan (QHP) coverage for 2016 during a third annual PPACA major medical open enrollment period that’s set to last from now until Jan. 31, 2016.
Regulators, insurers and exchanges developed the enrollment calendar system, which is really a limit on when people can buy coverage without jumping through hoops, to keep consumers from seeing the PPACA restrictions on medical underwriting as an invitation to wait until they get sick to pay for coverage.
The deadline for coverage that starts in January is Dec. 15 in 46 states and the District of Columbia, according to the ACASignups.net blog.
California’s Covered California exchange has organized a promotional bus tour.
Some states that have given up on trying to run their own enrollment systems and shifted to HealthCare.gov are still doing what they can to get residents to get covered.
Nevada Health Link, for example, is promoting a prescreening tool site and in-person assistance tools that offer detailed exchange helper contact information.
Some exchanges are making a point of talking up agents and brokers. Your Health Idaho is telling consumers that certified agents and brokers can help them choose coverage for free.
Connect for Health Colorado is using social media to promote a video featuring Mary Heidbrier, a broker and National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) member who is a partner at MLJ Insurance Services.
Two years ago, exchange managers had to face a torrent of computer system glitches.
A year ago, the exchange teams had to compete for public health program time and money with the effort to stop Ebola.
This year, the exchange teams have to cope with being familiar. They aren’t that new. They probably won’t be dysfunctional enough to be hilarious. Consumers expect them to pay claims on time and resolve enrollment problems reasonably smoothly.
How should exchange watchers grade the new open enrollment period? For three ideas, read on.
1. Can the public exchanges and the exchange plans flower more or less on their own?
The public exchange system will probably end the current year with about 9.1 million QHP enrollees, up from 6.3 million a year ago. Andy Slavitt, the acting Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator, has estimated that the exchange system may end up with 10 million QHP enrollees at the end of 2016.
But the real question may be not so much how many QHP enrollees the system ends up with as how easily it can attract enough consumers to keep insurers interested in stocking its shelves with products.
PPACA exchange support funding is running out, and the PPACA reinsurance program, a program that’s supposed to use a broad-based insurer fee to protect individual health insurance issuers against part of the cost of covering enrollees with catastrophic health programs, is set to expire at the end of 2016.