The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) recently released a memo detailing its outreach campaign strategy for the upcoming Open Enrollment Period of the Affordable Care Act Marketplace (ACA). CMS will increase its outreach, both direct mail and email, to people who have visited healthcare.gov.
While we have not received official word about the number of insurers and premium rates, we do know that premiums will rise in some parts of the country. We also know that almost three quarters of consumers nationally, and close to eight in 10 consumers in Texas, will still be able to afford plans for $75 or less a month after financial assistance is applied. This is supported by EHF’s recently released report of ACA health insurance enrollment data since 2013 showing that 86 percent of Texans who enrolled in the ACA marketplace received federal tax credits to help pay their premiums.
The same report also reveals that the number of Texans signed up for ACA health insurance plans has almost doubled since the first open enrollment period: increasing from 730,000 in 2013 to more than 1.3 million for the open enrollment period that ended in February 2016. These numbers helped the state’s uninsured rate drop by 30 percent since the ACA went into effect. Unfortunately, Texas still has the highest rate and the most uninsured residents in the country. Hispanic Texans make up a large percentage of the state’s uninsured, but a much smaller percentage of Texans enrolled in ACA marketplace health plans. There is much more room for improvement.
Our report shows that between 700,000 and 1.1 million Texans are currently uninsured but eligible for tax credits that would help cut their health insurance premium costs by an average of 75 percent. The majority of the eligible uninsured Texans live in six major metropolitan areas: Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso and Brownsville/McAllen/Harlingen. Enrollment organizations should direct their efforts for the upcoming open enrollment period in these areas.
For updated information about insurers and premium rates in the ACA marketplace, please visit www.healthcare.gov. There are enrollment organizations and resources like Enroll America and Young Invincibles as well as federally qualified health centers who are available to provide assistance during the enrollment process.
Please keep in mind the following important timeline for the upcoming open enrollment period:
- November 1, 2016: Open Enrollment 2017 starts. This is the first day you can enroll, re-enroll, or change health plans for 2017
- December 15, 2016: You must enroll in or change health plans by this date for your health plan to start January 1, 2017.
- January 1, 2017: 2017 insurance starts if you enrolled or changed plans by December 15.
- January 31, 2017: Last day to enroll in or change a 2017 health plan. After this date, you can enroll or change plans only if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.