It’s that time of the year again! Open enrollment starts tomorrow and consumers can once again shop for health care coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Using the call center, in-person assistance, or the improved HealthCare.gov site, consumers are also able to renew or make changes to existing plans. As open enrollment begins, here are a few key facts on how the Affordable Care Act is doing:
- 7.1 million people enrolled in the marketplace: During open enrollment last year, more than 7 million people purchased insurance through the exchange.
- The number of uninsured Americans fell by 25 percent this year: An estimated 10.3 million fewer people are uninsured this year, reducing the amount of Americans without health coverage by 25 percent.
- On average, tax credits reduced the cost of premiums by 76 percent: Last year, the average person who received financial assistance for coverage paid a monthly premium of $82, which is 76 percent less than the average price before credits.
- More insurers are offering plans for 2015: 25 percent more health insurers are expected to offer plans this year, creating competition that drives down prices for consumers.
With an increasing amount of data to prove the Affordable Care Act is working, a few million more people are expected to enroll in the exchange this year. Here are a few important things to know going into open enrollment:
- Open enrollment dates: Open enrollment starts on November 15th and lasts until February 15th. For coverage that starts January 1st, the deadline to enroll is December 15th.
- People with existing plans should shop around: People who already have insurance will need to renew their plans during open enrollment by December 15. But with the addition of more insurers in the marketplace, those with current plans should shop around on HealthCare.gov to make sure their current plan is still the best fit for them. Customers who don’t renew their coverage will likely be automatically enrolled again, but they could miss out on savings.
- Financial assistance is available: An estimated 8.7 million people could qualify for tax credits to help pay for their insurance. Last year, 85 percent of people who enrolled in insurance on the marketplace qualified for federal subsidies.
BOTTOM LINE: The Affordable Care Act is working — it has largely succeeded in bringing affordable, quality healthcare to millions while significantly shrinking the number of uninsured Americans. During open enrollment, consumers can shop for a health coverage plan that works for them, and financial assistance is available. The millions more expected to enroll this year, as well as the millions who have already taken advantage of the law, stand to benefit greatly from this open enrollment period. But it only lasts for three months, and if you want coverage that starts January 1, the deadline is December 15th. So get shopping!