Yesterday, HHS announced that the Health Insurance Marketplaces are open for business, and Americans can again shop for high-quality, affordable coverage on an open, transparent market. This year, most Marketplace consumers will again have plan options for less than $75 per month, thanks to financial assistance.
“This Open Enrollment, we’re encouraging every American who might need coverage to visit HealthCare.gov, where they’ll find options for affordable health insurance. This year, the vast majority of consumers will qualify for tax credits that help keep coverage affordable, and it’s easier than ever to shop around and compare options,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. “As we sound today’s opening bell, let’s also take stock of the historic gains in coverage we’ve made as a country, and work together to continue that progress.”
Since the Marketplaces opened for business, they’ve helped drive the national uninsured rate down to historic low after historic low: it reached 8.6 percent in the first quarter of 2016, down from 16.3 percent in 2010. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 20 million more Americans have coverage today. The Marketplaces – along with the expansion of Medicaid in 31 states and the District of Columbia and the ability for young adults to stay on their parents’ plans up to age 26 – have been an important contributor to those gains.
This year, thanks to financial assistance, more than 70 percent of Marketplace consumers will be able to find plans for less than $75 per month. Eighty-four percent of current Marketplace consumers receive tax credits, which are designed to increase along with benchmark premiums to protect consumers from rate hikes. More current Marketplace consumers will qualify for next year. About 85 percent of Marketplace-eligible uninsured Americans could also qualify for tax credits.
HHS is encouraging Americans to take a fresh look at their options, because on the Marketplace, shopping for a better deal pays off. This year, the average consumer will be able to choose from 30 plans, with an average of 10 plans per issuer. More than 7 in 10 current Marketplace consumers could save by coming back to shop instead of re-enrolling in their current plan. If every returning consumer nationwide selected the lowest-cost plan within the same metal level, average premiums paid would fall by $28 per month – 20 percent – compared to 2016, after factoring in financial assistance.
“We want to make sure everyone knows it’s easier than ever to visit the Marketplace, compare your options, see if you qualify for lower costs, and sign up for the plan that best meets your needs and budget,” said HealthCare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan. “That’s why we’re going all-out for Open Enrollment this year, with a top-tier public education campaign and on-the-ground partnerships to reach people where they are and spread the word about the opportunity to enroll in affordable coverage.”
The HealthCare.gov team has continued to improve a user-friendly website so that 2017 shoppers will be better able to navigate plan options. This year, HealthCare.gov will be piloting and then phasing in further improvements to make the shopping experience more intuitive and streamlined, particularly for users who access the site from their mobile phones. This new Plan Compare 2.0 will offer a simpler, step-by-step sign-up process that integrates improved physician and drug look-up tools directly into the shopping experience.
Open Enrollment begins today and continues through January 31, 2017, with a December 15th deadline for January 1st coverage. Thirty-nine states are using the federal HealthCare.gov platform this year; 11 states and D.C. use their own Marketplace websites. For enrollment assistance, consumers can call 1-800-318-2596 or visit localhelp.healthcare.gov.