The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) picked an opportune weekend to start their 2014 Fall National Meeting. Saturday, November 15 happens also to be the start of the 2015 open enrollment period for coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) health insurance marketplaces. At the same time insurance department officials are gathering in Washington, DC from all over the United States and territories, millions of consumers will have their first opportunity this year to learn about the availability of financial help to buy affordable, high quality health insurance through the federal and state marketplaces.
While all eyes will likely be on Healthcare.gov on Saturday to see if the eligibility and enrollment systems are working, insurance department commissioners and staff are busy doing the basic blocking and tackling necessary to implement and monitor the consumer protections in the ACA. Many of the same issues at front of mind for health insurance consumers this open enrollment season are also a priority for state insurance regulators. For example, we can expect the NAIC to tackle several ACA issues over this weekend and the following weeks:
- The health committee will hear from officials from the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight (CCIIO), who can probably expect a grilling on their readiness to process new applications and renewals for current enrollees.
- The Consumer Information Subgroup is preparing a comprehensive set of “Frequently Asked Questions” that insurance department consumer support centers can use when they get questions about the new consumer protections and financial help available under the law.
- The Network Adequacy Model Review Subgroup will tackle one of the top consumer concerns over this past year – the lack of (1) a clear standard for the adequacy of marketplace plan provider networks and (2) the transparency necessary for consumers to make informed network comparisons among health plans.
- The Health Care Reform Regulatory Alternatives Working Group will examine ways that states can develop their own approaches to health care reform through the state innovation waivers provided under the ACA. They will also hear about the implications for states and consumers of the Supreme Court decision to take up the King v. Burwell litigation. Unfortunately, the chair of the Working Group, Commissioner Nickel (appointed by Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin), has chosen to provide a platform only to a supporter of the King plaintiffs, Tom Miller from the American Enterprise Institute. As a result, the commissioners are unlikely to hear a balanced view.
The NAIC’s meeting provides an important opportunity for state officials, insurance company stakeholders and consumer representatives to better understand emerging legal, policy, and regulatory issues that affect insurance markets, and develop tools and information for states doing the critically important implementation work. Stay tuned for updates from the meeting – I’ll be tweeting live @SabrinaCorlette