The second open enrollment is finally underway and, unlike last time, the healthcare.gov website is working well. The Obama Administration is focused on maximizing enrollments and renewals over the federal and state exchanges from November 15 to February 15t, 2015 and it looks like they are getting results. In 37 states, which chose the federal marketplace to act as their exchange, the enrollment numbers are the opposite of last year. Most of the states, which setup their own exchanges, are posting strong numbers as well. Throughout the first week, some interesting numbers and facts have surfaced.
Here are 4 things you need to know about the performance and the enrollments through the first week of second open enrollment:
1. The Numbers are Encouraging: In the first week of enrollment, almost 500,000 people enrolled for health insurance plans through the federally facilitated marketplace that is operational in 37 states. As compared to last year’s enrollment period, this year’s first week received more than 4 times the number of enrollments from the entire first month last year. Although the major difference in enrollments is partially due to the resolution of technical problems that plagued the exchanges last year, a 4x increase in the first week is still a pretty strong achievement for the Obama Administration. Complementing the progress of the federal marketplace, the state exchanges of Kentucky, Maryland and California are showing strong enrollment progress as well.
2. The Ratio of Newly Insured vs Reinsured is Balanced: Before the start of the current open enrollment, a major fear of the Obama Administration was the high chance of the remaining uninsured shunning the system. Fortunately, as per the available numbers, the ratio of people looking for new insurance vs. people renewing their health insurance is almost 1:1. As many as 1 million people have submitted applications for subsidies in this first week of operation, and nearly 1.6 million people have compared plans and pricing over the revamped healthcare.gov website. The website is performing well and is meeting the requirements of customers, and should accelerate Obama administration’s charge toward their goals for this enrollment period.
3. The Administration is Still Quite Far from Decided Targets: For the second enrollment period, the administration is targeting 9 million enrollments, including the 7 million who already have insurance. Although the enrollment period has started with a bang of 500,000 enrollments in the first week, the officials admit that there is still a lot of work to be done in the coming weeks. This is especially true after the recent report that the health insurance numbers for this year were skewed because the department counted people who had only purchased dental insurance. The error has added about a few hundred thousand to the actual number. In order to curb these problems, Syliva Burwell has explicitly pledged transparency in the system through weekly and monthly reports on enrollment numbers on the insurance exchange.
4. Not Everyone will Benefit from an Automatic Renewal: In case you purchased health insurance off the exchanges last year, your health insurance plan is scheduled for automatic renewal if you do not purchase a new one this year. However, not everyone is going to be happy with his or her current plan. The health insurance premiums have been revised this year, and some health plans have had drastic changes in their pricing. Although there are some plans, which have lowered their prices, the most popular and least costly policies of last year have gone through substantial increases. If you wait for an automatic renewal, you could be in for a sticker shock. It will be better for everyone to at least review their current plan and see if they are able to find a better insurance plan at better pricing over the marketplace. In case you need a health insurance plan that kicks in on January 1, 2015, you will have to buy one by December 15. For people who already have health insurance, you can change your health plan up till February 15, after which it will be automatically renewed for 2015.