Deadline for Open Enrollment Period Now Earlier
On Wednesday, the Obama administration confirmed that citizens must sign-up for health coverage by Feb. 15, 2014, according to the Washington Post. That means the end of the open enrollment period is about six weeks earlier than originally announced. Since applications can take up to 15 days to process, the new deadline is a way to ensure that consumers will have health insurance coverage that begins before March 31; consumers who are not insured by March 31 will be subject to penalties.
Insurers Get Incomplete Data from Federal Health Exchange
Insurance companies have been receiving locked or incomplete files for new enrollees from the federal online health insurance exchange, according to Bloomberg News. Industry consultants explain that this means insurers must fix the mistakes within each application. "If you've only got a dozen bad enrollments, that's OK, but what are you going to do when you have 200,000 bad enrollments?" asks Bob Laszewski, an insurance consultant in Arlington, Va. The number of consumers enrolling is expected to increase as Dec. 15 approaches, the deadline for coverage beginning on Jan. 1. "The concern is some people could get to Jan. 1 and not have coverage," says consultant Dan Schuyler. While state exchanges have also had tech glitches, the problems seem to be less severe than those facing the federal exchange.
Insurance Could Be Costly for Young, Healthy People
The success of Obamacare depends on the number of young, healthy people who sign up for health insurance. These "young invincibles," who use few medical services, are needed to offset costs for older, less-healthy consumers. But in a recent U.S. News article, Bob Graboyes, a Senior Research Fellow at Mercatus Center, explores just how costly an exchange plan could be for the young and healthy. In Arkansas, for example, the average 27-year-old male could have paid as little as $54 a month for a health plan before the Affordable Care Act. On the federal exchange, however, the average lowest-priced plan would cost $181 a month, a 235 percent increase. Even the cheapest, skimpiest option-- a catastrophic plan -- would cost about $135 a month, more than twice the pre-ACA cost. But, Graboyes points out, the monthly price tag is not a good indicator of whether a plan is worth buying, particularly if it comes with a high deductible, high out-of-pocket costs or a narrow network of providers and hospitals.
Enrolling for Health Insurance Made Easier on State Exchanges
Consumers have been frustrated on the federal health exchange because they must create an account before they can browse plans. State exchanges have had greater success, the New York Times reports, because their sites are easier to use. On Monday, Washington State reported that more than 9,400 people had already enrolled through the online system and in Connecticut, 1, 175 applications had already been processed. As of Tuesday, over 40,000 people have signed up for coverage through New York's exchange, and California reports that they have more than 16,000 completed applications. Issues have arisen on state exchanges that must verify applicant's identify through the federal government, an "identity-proofing" component of enrollment which has created problems on the Minnesota, Nevada and Rhode Island exchanges.