As the nation heads into week 3 of the 2016 Open Enrollment Period (OEP), the latest reports show that Affordable Care Act (ACA) policy sign-ups are going well. In fact, with only a few weeks until the Dec. 15, 2015 deadline, this year should surpass last year’s final enrollment numbers. Currently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has counted more than 1.6 million consumers purchasing ACA-compliant plans.
This shows that the government’s efforts to encourage enrollment during the OEP is working. And importantly, enrollment is increasing ahead of Dec. 15, 2015, the deadline for coverage to begin on Jan. 1, 2016. Failing to enroll during the OEP may put consumers at risk for IRS-imposed penalties. For 2016, latecomers will pay the greater of: $695 per adult and $347.50 per child, up to $2,085 per family; or, 2.5 percent of your income above the tax filing threshold.
Multiple options for sign-up assistance
Part of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the CMS is the agency responsible for overseeing Healthcare.org, as well as Medicare and Medicaid. To better illustrate how Obamacare is doing, the CMS is releasing weekly Open Enrollment snapshots for the HealthCare.gov platform. This is the official website utilized by the 38 states utilizing the Federally-facilitated Marketplace, as well as some state-run exchanges.
These snapshots provide clearer, updated estimates of consumers’ plan selections and call center activity. And, these snapshots show how enrollees, new and existing, are accessing the HealthCare.gov and its Spanish-language version, CuidadoDeSalud.gov. In addition, the Obama Administration is helping enrollees, new and existing, to select policies by offering toll-free access to call center representatives, at (800) 318-2596. And, consumers are able to attend enrollment events in their local communities. Information about these programs is available through the websites, as well.
As of Nov. 25, 2015, the CMS has tallied 1,645,698 plan selections. Of this, 65 percent are beneficiaries renewing their coverage, while 35 percent are new consumers. The final enrollment numbers may fluctuate, due to such factors as plan changes or cancellations. It’s also important to note that these snapshots only account for new plan selections, active plan renewals and auto-renewals. They do not include those consumers who paid their premiums, so their coverage could take effect.
However, these latest figures are seen as positive news. “We are three weeks into Open Enrollment, and we continue to see demand for the quality, affordable health coverage available through the Marketplace,” states HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell.
As of Dec. 9, 2015, the 2016 OEP’s fifth week, the CMS has reported that 2.8 million people had purchased plans through Healthcare.gov. Specifically, this includes 1.8 million plan renewals and 1 million new consumers.
By the end of last week, 2.8 million people had chosen plans on Healthcare.gov, which serves 38 states that didn’t set up their own insurance exchanges. That includes the 1 million new enrollees and another 1.8 million who renewed their policies.
“We are now seeing a surge of interest as we get closer to the deadline,” said Andrew M. Slavitt, the CMS’ acting administrator. “Each day has been bigger than the day before.” In fact, research shows that five states make up half of all Healthcare.gov sign-ups: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas.