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Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment Changes & Challenges

On October 12, President Trump signed an Executive Order (EO) to peel back many of the Affordable Care Act’s consumer protections for people with disabilities. Specifically, the President is directing the U.S. Department of Labor to study how to make it easier for small businesses, and possibly individuals, to join together and buy health insurance through nationwide association health plans.

Separately, the order would allow consumers to buy short-term policies, which need not comply with Obamacare’s protections for those with pre-existing conditions. Also, it looks to broaden the ability of employers to give workers money to buy their own coverage through health reimbursement arrangements, known as HRAs. The changes could take six months or more to take effect.

The White House also confirmed, as part of the Executive Order, it will immediately halt the approximately $7 billion in federal subsidy payments that help low-income consumers afford their deductible and out-of-pocket expenses.  Without insurance costs will not doubt rise and some insurers may back out of their federal contracts to sell health plans in 2018, meaning there will be fewer insurance options for people with disabilities.”

Since the Executive Order was signed, the President has since stated that he supports consumer subsidy payments as part of bipartisan health reform negotiations. United Spinal Association is concerned that this may result in lower premiums but skimpier benefits. That could draw younger and healthier customers away from Obamacare and send premiums skyrocketing for people needing more extensive healthcare left in the exchanges. United Spinal Association continues to encourage the bipartisan negotiations currently taking place over ways to sustain ACA marketplaces. Also, from November 1, 2017 through December 15, 2017 (in most states), individuals will be able to purchase health insurance through the marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

2018 ACA Open Enrollment starts November 1, 2017 in all 50 states and DC. It ends on December 15, 2017 in all states except:

California (1/31/18)
Colorado (1/12/2018)
Connecticut (12/22/2017)
District of Columbia (1/31/2018)
Massachusetts (1/23/2018)
Minnesota (1/14/2018)
New York (1/31/2018)
Rhode Island (12/31/2017)
Washington (1/15/2018)

*Special enrollment period (12/16/2017 – 12/31/2017) available for hurricane victims*

There are a number of changes that have occurred to the 2018 open enrollment period, which will run from November 1st to December 15th in most states.

Shorter Enrollment Period.
The first major change is a shorter enrollment period. The 2018 enrollment period was originally scheduled to run November 1, 2017 through January 31, 2018. However, the Department of Health and Human Services cut the period in half so that it only runs until December 15, 2017. This means it is crucial to get information out to individuals about open enrollment before and during the open enrollment period since individuals will have less time to sign up for ACA healthcare.

Other changes:
o Some loosening of benefit requirements
o More supporting documentation required for special enrollment
o Changes to doctor network rules
o Collection of overdue premiums

  • From November 1, 2017 through December 15, 2017 (in most states), individuals will be able to purchase health insurance through the marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
  • Plans may have lower premiums but may also have skimpier benefits.
  • End to $7 billion in federal subsidy payments that help low-income consumers afford their deductible and out-of-pocket expenses.
  • There will be fewer insurance options for people with disabilities.

The second change refers to a series of deep budget cuts that happened in late August. These cuts include a 90% reduction for marketplace advertising, a 42% cut for HealthCare.gov (the website that allows individuals to sign up for health insurance), and a $25.7 million cut to navigators (trained individuals that help guide people through the ACA sign-up process).
Website Outages.

It was recently announced that the federal health insurance exchange – HealthCare.gov – will be shut down for maintenance once a week, every week for 12 hours, during the open enrollment period. With the already shortened open enrollment period, these outages will make it even more difficult for people to sign up for health insurance through the marketplace.

What Can We Do Now?

Help spread the word about how to enroll While a significant amount of funding has been cut and the enrollment period shortened, we can make a difference by spreading information through our own networks. Post to Facebook or send a Tweet about the Open Enrollment period. Ask your friends and family if they have health insurance. Every effort helps!

Open Enrollment Resources
HealthCare.gov – open enrollment website
Get America Covered – provides enrollment information specific to your state
Get Covered: A Guide to the Health Insurance Marketplace – Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Get Covered America – locate someone in your area who can help you complete your health insurance application
Families USA Enrollment Assister Resource Center – materials to help navigators and assisters be successful during open enrollment and beyond

2017-10-17T13:57:43+00:00 October 16th, 2017|Categories: Advocacy, Latest, United Spinal Updates|

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