Healthcare Open Enrollment #5 – Changes and Challenges
October 13, 2017 | Chris Corsi, AAPD intern
Open Enrollment (OE) 5 begins on November 1, 2017.
From November 1, 2017 through December 15, 2017 (in most states), individuals will be able to purchase health insurance through the marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Enrollment Changes in 2018
2018 ACA Open Enrollment starts November 1, 2017 in all 50 states and DC
It ends on December 15, 2017 in all states except:
District of Columbia (1/31/2018)
New York (1/31/2018)
Rhode Island (12/31/2017)
*Special enrollment period (12/16/2017 – 12/31/2017) available for hurricane victims*
There are a number of changes that have occurred to the 2018 OE period, which will run from November 1st to December 15th in most states.
Shorter Enrollment Period. The first major change is a shorter enrollment period. The 2018 enrollment period was originally scheduled to run November 1, 2017 through January 31, 2018. However, the Department of Health and Human Services cut the period in half so that it only runs until December 15, 2017. This means it is crucial to get information out to individuals about OE5 before and during the open enrollment period since individuals will have less time to sign up for ACA healthcare.
Cuts to the outreach, education, and enrollment budget. The second change refers to a series of deep budget cuts that happened in late August. These cuts include a 90% reduction for marketplace advertising, a 42% cut for HealthCare.gov (the website that allows individuals to sign up for health insurance), and a $25.7 million cut to Navigators (trained individuals that help guide people through the ACA sign-up process).
Website Outages. It was recently announced that the federal health insurance exchange – HealthCare.gov – will be shut down for maintenance once a week, every week for 12 hours, during the open enrollment period. With the already shorten open enrollment period, these outages will make it even more difficult for people to sign up for health insurance through the marketplace.
These changes will suppress marketplace enrollment and will likely limit the number of people who gain health insurance. Having less people sign up for coverage could lead to less-balanced risk pools and higher costs.
What does this mean for people with disabilities?
The ACA has helped, and continues to help, people with disabilities in a number of ways. Providing protections for people with pre-existing conditions opened the door for many people with disabilities to receive affordable, comprehensive health insurance. The ACA also eliminated lifetime benefit limits, meaning there were no caps to the amount of money one could receive in a lifetime from an insurer. Medicaid expansion in 32 states, including Washington, DC, provided individuals with incomes at or below 138% of the poverty line affordable healthcare. These provisions resulted in 20 million people gaining health insurance by January of this year.
Government health insurance is extremely important to people with disabilities – in 2015 58.3% of adults with disabilities had government health insurance compared to 17.4% of adults without disabilities. Shortening the Open Enrollment period and cutting funding means less uninsured individuals will have the opportunity to enroll in health insurance, and fewer individuals will be able to take advantage of the opportunities ACA has created for people with disabilities.
What can we do now?
Help spread the word about Open Enrollment Period #5! While a significant amount of funding has been cut and the enrollment period shortened, we can make a difference by spreading information through our own networks. Post to Facebook or send a Tweet about the Open Enrollment period. Ask your friends and family if they have health insurance. Every effort helps!
Open Enrollment Resources
- HealthCare.gov – Open Enrollment website
- Get America Covered – provides enrollment information specific to your state
- Open Enrollment Toolkit – Engagement toolkit provided by Get America Covered
- Get Covered: A Guide to the Health Insurance Marketplace – Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
- Get Covered America – locate someone in your area who can help you complete your health insurance application
- Families USA Enrollment Assister Resource Center – materials to help navigators and assisters be successful during open enrollment and beyond
- Out2Enroll – Enrollment resources and support for the LGBTQ community
- ACA Signup Project – Graphics and materials to help promote Open Enrollment #5