A smiley face superimposed on the HealthCare.gov home page (Image: Allison Bell/ALM)

Managers of HealthCare.gov, the federal government’s web-based health insurance supermarket, have opened agent and broker registration for the 2020 plan year.

The ordinary open enrollment period for 2020 is set to start Nov. 1 and run until Dec. 15.

(Related: HealthCare.gov Organizes Agent Event)

At press time, on Aug. 8, the HealthCare.gov registration database appeared to show that the earliest 2020 plan year agent registrations had an Aug. 6 completion date. The site listed 1,218 completed individual market registrations and 125 completed small-group market registrations.

The History

Drafters of the ACA called for states to set up and oversee health insurance supermarkets for their residents, to help residents shop for health coverage on an apples-to-apples basis, and to use federal premium tax credit subsidies to pay for the coverage.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) organized HealthCare.gov to provide exchange account signup and administration services for residents of states that are unwilling or unable to handle all ACA public exchange activities themselves.

Many states have reported that they believe growing insurer comfort with the Affordable Care Act framework, and the introduction of new, state-subsidized reinsurance programs, could help stabilize the full, unsubsidized cost of individual major medical insurance in their jurisdictions in 2020.

What HealthCare.gov’s Boss Said

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), an arm of HHS, has put HealthCare.gov under the direction of its Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO) division.

Randy Pate, the CMS deputy administrator in charge of CCIIO, spoke Sunday in New York, at the summer national meeting of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

Pate acknowledged that HealthCare.gov enrollment activity was somewhat lower in the open enrollment period for 2019 than in the open enrollment period for 2018.

In open enrollment period for 2019, one challenge for the private insurers that sell individual coverage through HealthCare.gov was a strong job market, Pate said.

Employers are hiring and covering more people, and that has reduced the number of people who need to buy their own coverage, Pate said.

Stable prices and improving HealthCare.gov enrollment systems should help strengthen enrollment in 2020, Pate said.

The Web Brokers

CCIIO has also been working to offer web brokers more direct access to the federal government’s ACA premium tax credit eligibility determination system, to make it easier for people to qualify for tax credits when they buy coverage from sources other than HealthCare.gov.

GetInsured, a web broker, recently announced that it was the first company to pass the official CMS audit required for web brokers that want to use the new “Enhanced Direct Enrollment” process.

CMS posted a direct enrollment web broker list in July that showed that, in July, 36 web brokers had some level of direct enrollment capabilities.

Resources

Information about the HealthCare.gov agent and broker registration process is available here.

A copy of the CMS direct enrollment web broker list is available here.

— Read 3 Reasons Individual Health Could Make a Comeback, on ThinkAdvisor.

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