This morning, the Department of Health and Human Services began a major push to educate the public about the new health insurance options available to them under the Affordable Care Act, including the newly-named Health Insurance Marketplace (formerly known as the “Federally Facilitated Exchange.”) With just under nine months to go until the open enrollment season begins on October 1, 2013, polls show that the general public is still largely unaware of the main provisions of the Affordable Care Act – including how they will shop for and enroll in health insurance for the 2014 plan year. One study by Lake Research Partners found that 78 percent of uninsured Americans likely to qualify for subsidies, and 83 percent of those likely to newly qualify for Medicaid, were unfamiliar with the new coverage options under the ACA.
The outreach effort starts with a newly-unveiled Health Insurance Marketplace section on the HHS-sponsored website www.healthcare.gov where individuals and businesses can sign up for updates, learn more about health insurance basics, review checklists for how to prepare for the new marketplace, and watch a short video that explains the concept of shopping for coverage on exchanges. And of course, no outreach campaign today would be complete without a Facebook page.
Public outreach and enrollment assistance are critical to the success of health insurance exchanges because without a large, healthy base of enrollees, these new marketplaces could be subject to adverse selection and higher premiums. With 18 states plus DC planning to run state-based exchanges, the new Health Insurance Marketplace is going to be a key source of private coverage for individuals in the majority of states across the country – including those that are partnering with the federal government to conduct critical exchange functions like plan management and consumer assistance.
Stay tuned to CHIRBlog for more news on exchange enrollment and development in the coming weeks and months.