Open Enrollment - Nov. 1 to Dec. 15, 2017
The Health Insurance Marketplace opened after scheduled Healthcare.gov maintenance on November 1. Consumers were then able to login, create accounts, select plans and make their first premium payment. Insurers are offering a variety of plans, some with narrowed networks and tiered options. The cost of Silver level plans in some regions is considerably higher than previous years, due in large part to the Trump administration's decision not to reimburse insurers for cost sharing reductions (CSRs). Consequently, the CSR costs were included in the Silver level plan premiums making some Gold level plans less expensive than Silver and driving down the cost of some Bronze plans to zero-dollar. The message to consumers is "Shop, Shop, Shop. Shop now. Review networks and compare. There is still a penalty and the IRS plans to enforce it."
When Lines Are Long, Consumers May be Welcomed to Waiting Room
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that, as in previous years, it may deploy a "waiting room" when website traffic is high for consumers logging in or creating an account on HealthCare.gov. The waiting room is one tool used to "optimize a consumers' experience" because it allows CMS to control the volume of users resulting in better performance of the website. Consumers see a message asking them to stay on the page. The waiting room will refresh when a consumer can continue to apply and enroll with a smooth experience.
Renewals for Consumers with Discontinued Plans
Consumers with a 2017 plan that isn't available for 2018 should have received a discontinuation notice from their current issuer. Those consumers may also receive a letter from the Marketplace notifying them that they have been matched with an alternate plan from a different issuer to help avoid a gap in coverage. Consumers are not under any obligation to stay with this plan and are encouraged to take action and choose a plan by Dec. 15. Consumers with discontinued plans are eligible for a loss of coverage Special Enrollment Period.
The Right Fit: Helping Consumers Navigate the Plan Selection Process
If you missed this informative webinar, the presentation includes an in-depth overview of Qualified Health Plans (QHPs), guidance on how to talk to consumers about complicated insurance terms, and the latest trends in QHPs offered in the Marketplace. Additionally, it highlights innovative strategies for helping consumers identify their priorities and find the plan that best meets their needs. The session concluded with a live, step-by-step demonstration on how these strategies can be applied when comparing plans on Healthcare.gov, featuring sample consumer scenarios and actual Marketplace plans from across Pennsylvania. To view a recording of the webinar, click here.