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Affordable Care Act enrollment schedule may lock millions into unwanted health plans

KSweeley

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A warning to people who has Affordable Care Act healthcare plans, Trump changed the enrollment schedule for ACA this year, the way ACA plans work is people are auto-enrolled back into their existing plans, Trump changed things so the auto-enrollment occurs AFTER people can make changes to their ACA plans: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nati...pisrc=al_alert-COMBO-politics%2Bnation&wpmk=1

October 20, 2017

Millions of Americans with insurance through the Affordable Care Act could find themselves locked into health plans they do not want for the coming year because of the Trump administration’s schedule for the enrollment season that starts in less than two weeks.

The complication arises when people who already have health plans under the law are automatically re-enrolled in the same plan. In the past, a few million consumers each year have been auto-enrolled and then were sent government notices encouraging them to check whether they could find better or more affordable coverage.

This time, according to a federal document obtained by The Washington Post, the automatic enrollment will take place after it is too late to make any changes. Auto-enrollment will occur immediately after the last day of the ACA sign-up season, which the Trump administration has shortened, leaving the vast majority of such consumers stranded without any way to switch to a plan they might prefer.

That inability is particularly problematic at the moment, health policy specialists say, because political turmoil surrounding the sprawling health care law has contributed to spikes in 2018 insurance rates that might catch customers by surprise, as well as widespread public confusion about this fifth year’s enrollment season.

The administration’s unannounced decision about the nuances of auto-enrollment is part of a pattern in which President Trump’s antipathy for the ACA — he erroneously terms its insurances exchanges “dead” — has filtered into a series of actions and inactions that could suppress the number of Americans who receive coverage through the marketplaces for 2018.

The sign-up period is to run from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15 — half the duration of the past three years. Last month, federal health officials announced that they were slashing by 90 percent the money devoted to outreach and advertising aimed at uninsured Americans eligible for ACA coverage and people already covered who need to sign up again. At the same time, funding for enrollment helpers, known as navigators, has been curtailed by about 40 percent.

Last week, Trump took two dramatic steps that are likely to weaken the ACA marketplaces further. He ended billions of dollars in reimbursements to marketplace insurers for discounts the law requires them to provide to lower-income customers for deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses. And the president signed an executive order that, over time, is likely to make it easier for individuals and small businesses to buy relatively inexpensive health plans that can circumvent consumer protections and medical benefits required under the law.

How the renewal of current customers in ACA marketplaces will be handled is one of several crucial questions about the workings of the imminent enrollment period that have remained murky as Nov. 1 approaches.

According to the document, “Consumer Timelines,” from the Health and Human Services Department’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency overseeing ACA marketplaces, the automatic re-enrollment will take place starting Dec. 16, the day after the enrollment season ends. That is the same date as the past three years, but before, when the sign-up period lasted until Jan. 31, consumers had time to go into HealthCare.gov, the website for the federal insurance exchange on which most states rely, and either shop for a more affordable plan or drop their coverage.

Asked about the timing, CMS officials on Friday did not specifically confirm the auto-enrollment date but issued a statement that said: “Similar to Medicare’s open-enrollment period, if you miss the deadline to enroll in a plan of your choice, you will not be able to make any changes to your plan until the next coverage year” except for a small number of people eligible for a special enrollment period because of moves, marriages, new babies or other life changes. The statement said that auto-enrollment will happen this year and that “we encourage all consumers to shop and pick a plan that best suits their health-care needs.”

It remains unclear whether consumers will be notified of when the automatic enrollment will take place — or that they will be unable to make changes afterward. A page on the HealthCare.gov website, containing information on how to keep or change a health plan, says that current ACA customers will receive two notices before Nov. 1 — one from the federal marketplace and the other from their insurer. It does not say what information those notices will contain.

Asked to clarify, CMS officials did not provide details and pointed to an August news release that said the $10 million remaining for outreach efforts, down from $100 million last year, would focus on telling consumers about “the new dates of the open-enrollment period through digital media, email, and text messages.”

Consumer advocates and health-policy experts, told of the auto-enrollment timing, were critical. “If they find out after Dec. 15 they’ve been auto-enrolled, there is a real danger people will not be able to pay the premiums — or will drop out,” said Cheryl Fish-Parcham, director of access initiatives for Families USA, a liberal consumer-health lobby.

“It was never a good idea to auto-enroll. The advice has always been to come back and shop,” said Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation. But before, consumers could later choose different coverage. “Now that’s it. The curtain falls.”
 

KSweeley

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This statement from Trump's CMS is so fucked up, it's essentially telling people who get auto-enrolled back into their existing plans that they're shit out of luck until 2019 if they want to change plans:

Asked about the timing, CMS officials on Friday issued a statement that said: “Similar to Medicare’s open-enrollment period, if you miss the deadline to enroll in a plan of your choice, you will not be able to make any changes to your plan until the next coverage year” except for a small number of people eligible for a special enrollment period because of moves, marriages, new babies or other life changes. The statement said that auto-enrollment will happen this year and that “we encourage all consumers to shop and pick a plan that best suits their health-care needs.”
 

Shy Fingers

Banned
Aug 3, 2011
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This statement from Trump's CMS is so fucked up, it's essentially telling people who get auto-enrolled back into their existing plans that they're shit out of luck until 2019 if they want to change plans:

I work for an insurance broker, and yeah... that's how almost everyone does insurance. Nothing in this article is different from how employer insurance open enrollment and qualifying events are done.

You enroll in the open enrollment period, or have a qualifying event to make changes to your plan.

The auto enroll is also pretty standard, and only doesn't happen rarely. What's different this year is they're not being reminded of their plan beforehand, but that's rarely a thing in the industry anyway.
 

Steel

Banned
Jun 20, 2013
19,664
1
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I work for an insurance broker, and yeah... that's how almost everyone does insurance. Nothing in this article is different from how employer insurance open enrollment and qualifying events are done.

You enroll in the open enrollment period, or have a qualifying event to make changes to your plan.

The auto enroll is also pretty standard, and only doesn't happen rarely. What's different this year is they're not being reminded of their plan beforehand, but that's rarely a thing in the industry anyway.

They also shortened the enrollment period.
 

Shy Fingers

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Aug 3, 2011
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They also shortened the enrollment period.

It's still a month and a half. Average is a week or two for employers. My shortest this fall was 3 days.

I mean it's clear what he's doing here and make it more difficult, but 6 weeks to enroll is a good chunk of time. That's more than 10% of the year.

What am I missing here? This doesnt sound like a new revelation.

Yeah, I'm not getting what's weird about this either.
 

Dali

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Jan 2, 2007
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I work for an insurance broker, and yeah... that's how almost everyone does insurance. Nothing in this article is different from how employer insurance open enrollment and qualifying events are done.

You enroll in the open enrollment period, or have a qualifying event to make changes to your plan.

The auto enroll is also pretty standard, and only doesn't happen rarely. What's different this year is they're not being reminded of their plan beforehand, but that's rarely a thing in the industry anyway.
Rarely a thing? I'm pretty sure every single employer I've ever had made a big deal out of open the enrollment period. People using affordable healthcare act insurance plans aren't getting it through their employer, so it sounds like before the orange douche they'd get the same heads up as other people.
 

Syriel

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Sep 21, 2009
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A warning to people who has Affordable Care Act healthcare plans, Trump changed the enrollment schedule for ACA this year, the way ACA plans work is people are auto-enrolled back into their existing plans, Trump changed things so the auto-enrollment occurs AFTER people can make changes to their ACA plans: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nati...pisrc=al_alert-COMBO-politics%2Bnation&wpmk=1

Not sure why this is a problem.

People can still change their plan during open enrollment.

Open enrollment being shorter is crappy. Auto-enrollment is not.

At least people are not being left w/o insurance.
 

MrDaravon

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Mar 24, 2005
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I work for an insurance broker, and yeah... that's how almost everyone does insurance. Nothing in this article is different from how employer insurance open enrollment and qualifying events are done.

You enroll in the open enrollment period, or have a qualifying event to make changes to your plan.

The auto enroll is also pretty standard, and only doesn't happen rarely. What's different this year is they're not being reminded of their plan beforehand, but that's rarely a thing in the industry anyway.

This 100%.
 

KSweeley

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May 7, 2014
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From the article:

This time, according to a federal document obtained by The Washington Post, the automatic enrollment will take place after it is too late to make any changes. Auto-enrollment will occur immediately after the last day of the ACA sign-up season, which the Trump administration has shortened, leaving the vast majority of such consumers stranded without any way to switch to a plan they might prefer.
 

skullmuffins

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I don’t see why that’s problematic though. That’s exactly how my employer provided insurance works. Make changes during open enrollment or you stay on the same plan.
It's shitty because previously people who were auto-enrolled into the same plan were also sent a notice that they could look for better or less expensive options. Now, that's not an option because auto enrollment happens after the open enrollment period ends. Trump has also slashed ACA outreach funding so less people are aware of the open enrollment period.
 

Dali

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I don’t see why that’s problematic though. That’s exactly how my employer provided insurance works. Make changes during open enrollment or you stay on the same plan.
The bolded in the OP is not really focusing on the real issue or doesn't understand it. They used to be auto enrolled first, at the start of the enrollment period, then a notice was sent, telling them about the open enrollment period and to make changes, if needed. Now people get a welcome to Ohio, haha you're trapped in Ohio letter once the open enrollment period is over.
 

Skellig Gra

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It's shitty because previously people who were auto-enrolled into the same plan were also sent a notice that they could look for better or less expensive options. Now, that's not an option because auto enrollment happens after the open enrollment period ends. Trump has also slashed ACA outreach funding so less people are aware of the open enrollment period.
Seems to me the reduced outreach and shortened enrollment period are the major issues. This seems like a minor nitpick. Not sure why they even bothered with the change.
 

JB1981

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May 12, 2006
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It's shitty because previously people who were auto-enrolled into the same plan were also sent a notice that they could look for better or less expensive options. Now, that's not an option because auto enrollment happens after the open enrollment period ends. Trump has also slashed ACA outreach funding so less people are aware of the open enrollment period.

Ummm they CAN look for better or less expense options in the six weeks prior to that, i.e. Open Enrollment
 

Dali

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Seems to me the reduced outreach and shortened enrollment period are the major issues. This seems like a minor nitpick. Not sure why they even bothered with the change.
A minor nitpick? You can only change your insurance plan once a year, barring major life changes. That's why every employer will make it known "Hey it's open enrollment time." This sounds like it's not giving the heads up anymore. Little Donnie would love to see it fail and stacking "nitpick" upon "nitpick" will surely have a major effect.
 

Skellig Gra

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they can, if they're aware of open enrollment, which the administration is doing it's best to not publicize.
Yeah which is the real story
A minor nitpick? You can only change your insurance plan once a year, barring major life changes. That's why every employer will make it known "Hey it's open enrollment time." This sounds like it's not giving the heads up anymore. Little Donnie would love to see it fail and stacking "nitpick" upon "nitpick" will surely have a major effect.
The lack of outreach is a big deal I’m saying no changes after open enrollment is over is not a big deal.
 

JB1981

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May 12, 2006
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they can, if they're aware of open enrollment, which the administration is doing it's best to not publicize.

Why would they not be aware of open enrollment? They are already enrolled in a plan, meaning they were aware the OEP last year. Why would they suddenly have amnesia about it?

Also their insurance carrier will most certainly be reminding them of OEP
 

JoeyJungle

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Aug 24, 2011
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Why would they not be aware of open enrollment? They are already enrolled in a plan, meaning they were aware the OEP last year. Why would they suddenly have amnesia about it?

Also their insurance carrier will most certainly be reminding them of OEP

So best case scenario is "Oh shit I remember I bought health coverage right after new years last year, I should do that agai-"
 

Dali

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Yeah which is the real story

The lack of outreach is a big deal I’m saying no changes after open enrollment is over is not a big deal.
Ok. My reply was to your reply where the post was highlighting irrelevant stuff. I assumed you didn't understand the issue, which you may not have at that point, because all you said was that's how open enrollment normally works (no changes after the enrollment period). Your follow up post further hinted that maybe you didn't see what was the issue, but whatever, we're on the same page now.