By Sabrina Corlette, JoAnn Volk, Tricia Brooks and Sandy Ahn
Sunday, February 15, 2015 was the final day of the open enrollment period (often called “OE2”) for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. Over the last 4 months, thousands of navigators, application counselors, brokers, tax advisors and other assisters have spent countless hours educating consumers about their coverage options, guiding them through the application process, and helping them enroll in a plan. In large part thanks to their hard work, an estimated 11.4 million people have signed up or re-enrolled in plans on the health insurance marketplaces, exceeding the earlier enrollment projections of the Obama Administration.
Along the way, thanks to a generous grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, we at Georgetown’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms and Center for Children and Families have had the privilege of providing technical assistance to Navigator grantees in a handful of states. We asked for – and received – some of their thorniest and most complicated questions on the wide range of issues facing consumers as they apply for and enroll in new coverage options. We tried our best to provide them with timely answers by digging into a constantly evolving set of federal and state laws, regulations, and policy guidance.
Many of the same issues and problems arose time and time again in the questions we received over the course of OE2. We thus decided it would be helpful to share some of these questions – and our answers – with a broader audience. This compilation of questions and answers includes topics such as affordability exemptions, premium tax credits and tax penalties, the effects of mid-year changes in marital status, calculating income for the self-employed, minimum essential coverage vs. minimum value, and changes in smoking status. It can be downloaded here.
Many more of these types of questions and answers – almost 300 of them – can be found on our online, searchable NavigatorGuide, available at navigatorguide.georgetown.edu.
We know that the work for many navigators and assisters is by no means complete, as consumers who were “in line” at the close of enrollment and those qualifying for special enrollment periods will continue to need help. Additionally, Medicaid and CHIP are open for enrollment year-round. However, we want to take this opportunity to extend all assisters our heartfelt thanks for all they have done to help people get access to affordable, meaningful coverage.