For those who are unaware, the enrollment period for insurance plans, especially as it relates to the Affordable Care Act begins in November and has a definite expiration date. During the open enrollment period anyone is free to obtain health insurance, but once the time expires, it will be closed until the next enrollment period in approximately one year.
This is normally a close period but there are some exceptions, for example, there are certain circumstances that will allow an individual to obtain coverage, such as a major life event, natural disaster (take the hurricanes in Florida as an example), or even when starting a new job. Today we are going to spend some time talking about the extension on open enrollment and what it means, especially where it pertains to the average consumer given the current state of the health market.
Open enrollment started on November 12 for individuals and families, and the federal deadline for enrollment is December 15th. There are some states however, that have opted to extend their deadline past the federal deadline, including these:
California: While open enrollment did end on December 15, 2017, individuals will have the opportunity to sign up until January 15th, 2018. Coverage will begin February 1, 2018.
Colorado: As with other states, open enrollment in Colorado ended on December 15, 2017, but the state has extended it to January 15, 2018, with coverage beginning on February 1, 2018, just as with California.
There have been some concerns that confusion caused by the recent changes to the health insurance industry and open enrollment will cause many to either not obtain coverage, or they will end up with inadequate coverage. The biggest difference to be made here will be found in the agency that states maintain over their health insurance plans. There are some that rely on the federal marketplace, and those that feature their own exchange.
State Run Health Exchanges Offer the Most Promise
Nine states have extended their enrollment period, in some states by a week and in others by a full six weeks. Colorado is among the states that will be managing and promoting their own health exchange, and they will be using the assistance of thousands of experts to run consumers through the range of health insurance plans. This has absolutely nothing to do with what is occurring on the federal level, as these states have assumed their own costs and it seems that their decision to assume the political risks of creating their own exchanges has paid off big.
Keeping Premiums Stable
States like Colorado and Minnesota are expected to keep their premiums stable during the 2018 season, which does a great job of setting them apart from those states that are relying on the federal system. Of course, no state is completely immune from the insurance premium spikes, and some states are prepping for a considerable rate hike in the individual market. California could see an increase of 12.5% with other states jumping up as high as 45%.
Colorado’s Connect for Health exchange recently sent out an e-mail announcement to both current and potential health insurance customers stating that financial help will still be available to anyone who requires it. This includes access to professionals who will be able to guide them through the system. This should help to alleviate any potential problems that would stem from orders passed down from the Trump administration.
The changes at the federal level have not caused problems for California. They are continuing on their course and as always, the enrollment for the state marketplace will run through January. This year I maintains the $66 million advertising budget that we saw last year, which gives them six times more than Healthcare.gov will spend on its 38 states.
To put it as simply as possible, California and Colorado taking this in stride, but they are also working to make sure that they take healthcare seriously. There are many changes coming in the future, some of which we will not see the consequences of until next year, but you can rest assured that states who have practiced autonomy with their own healthcare markets will be able to provide financial aid to their citizens for the entirety of 2018. The market is rapidly changing and it is difficult for us to see where it will go from here.
Certain states were able to anticipate a problem, and where therefore able to compensate by establishing their own markets. Whether or not other states are going to be following suit in the future is a good question. It all depends on what changes we see in the market and how the Trump administration choose to handle health insurance.
More changes are to come, obviously, and we will just have to see how it plays out as legislation is passed and rules are changed. For now, in some states, enrollment has been extended, giving plenty of people a great opportunity to get the coverage that they need for themselves, and for their families for the 2018 season. Make sure you get yours before it closes!