ACA Roundup: Open Enrollment Period Extended

A roundup of the latest news about Obamacare.

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2014 Open Enrollment Period Extended Until Dec. 23, 2013

On Nov. 22, the Obama administration announced that the 2014 open enrollment period would be extended for one week; it will now be changed from Dec. 15 to Dec. 23, 2013. The extension is in an effort to allow more consumers to enroll for coverage beginning on Jan. 1, 2014, reports The Los Angeles Times. Consumers were unable to sign up on the online exchanges due to extensive website problems.

Cancelled Health Plans Leave Consumers Puzzled

As the Obamacare Health Exchanges went live, thousands of Americans received an unwelcome letter from their health insurers, reports U.S. News. In spite of promises that the Affordable Care Act would not adversely affect their current coverage, health insurance companies have been cancelling thousands of plans, forcing consumers to buy new ones. Last week, the president offered angry consumers a compromise: Cancelled, non-ACA-compliant plans could be extended for one year, as long as they are renewed before the start of the next health exchange open-enrollment period on Oct. 1, 2014.

What Insurers Must Disclose About Renewable Plans

On Thursday, Nov. 21, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services unveiled what must be included in letters insurers send to those with previously cancelled health plans that may now be renewed for 2014, reports The New York Times. “If you choose to renew your current policy, it will NOT provide all of the rights and protections of the health care law,” a sample letter explains. The letter goes on to list the rules and regulations that any non-ACA compliant health plan breaks. Things such as excluding those with pre-existing conditions or not putting an annual cap on out-of-pocket expenses. The letters also advertise that an alternative option, the health insurance exchange, is still available to those with the option of renewing their previous health plan. The healthcare.gov website as well as the call center number must also be provided.

2015 Open Enrollment Period Delayed

The Department of Health and Human Services has decided to push back the start of the 2015 open enrollment period until Nov. 15, 2014, reports The Wall Street Journal. According to a department official, consumers will also now have until Jan. 15, 2015,  to enroll in health plans. The decision was made in an effort to give insurers more time to “evaluate their experiences during the 2014 plan year and allow them to take into account those who may enroll late, including young adults, before setting 2015 rates,” the department explained. The change does not affect the 2014 open enrollment period.

Analysis: 4.4M Americans Not Eligible for Subsidies

According to a recent report by USA Today, approximately 4.4 million Americans in the individual market are not eligible to receive subsidies, or federal help to pay for their health coverage. The study, which analyzed insurance rates in the 34 states participating in the federal exchange, found that on average, Wyoming has the most expensive HMO plans, at $778 per month. Conversely, Texas ranks as one of the most affordable states for both PPO and HMO plans, with average monthly premiums between $200 and $250. On the other hand, about 10.8 million people or three-quarters of the individual market are eligible to qualify for subsidies, according to a report published on Thursday by Families USA.

Insurance Brokers also Suffer from Troubled Obamacare Rollout

Unable to sign-up for health insurance on their own, many Americans have turned to insurance brokers to help them navigate healthcare.gov, the online federal health insurance exchange website, that continues to be plagued by technical issues. But insurance brokers are coming up against their own technological hurdles. They cannot enter their identity numbers which both allow them to be compensated by insurers, but also allow regulators to follow-up in case of an error, reports The Washington Post.

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