CHN: ACA Open Enrollment Begins

Open enrollment for insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces began November 1. This year, the open enrollment period will end on December 15; the 6-week sign-up period is half of the time allowed in previous years. The Trump administration has also cut advertising spending for open enrollment by 90 percent from last year, and cut the budget for the “navigator” program, which pays workers to assist shoppers with enrollment, by 41 percent, from $63 million last year to $36 million this year. As noted in the related CHIP article in this Human Needs Report, the Trump administration also announced in October that it would end payments to insurance companies (known as cost-sharing reductions) that cover the insurers’ costs of lowering deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for almost 6 million lower-income marketplace enrollees. The decision to stop CSR payments, along with other uncertainties caused by Congress and the Trump administration’s repeated efforts to undermine the ACA, have significantly increased marketplace premiums for “silver” plans for 2018. However, those who qualify for subsidies will get additional help in paying these premiums, and some may find the more comprehensive “gold” plans are a better deal.

Advocates are concerned that these cuts, along with the shortened enrollment period and the increased premiums, will dramatically reduce the number of people who enroll for coverage. Advocacy groups like Get Covered America have been busy promoting the open enrollment time period and reminding enrollees that 80 percent of marketplace enrollees can still find coverage for $75 or less per month. So far, enrollment is running at a faster pace this year than last year.

Affordable Care Act