Minneapolis, MN – While several factors are fueling record-high enrollment in Marketplace health insurance, many newly eligible consumers may still not have enrolled yet – despite a fast-approaching deadline. Today, healthinsurance.org offered last-minute consumer tips and insights about the annual open enrollment period, which has an unusual deadline this year in most states.
“Open enrollment is unique this year: The deadline is Jan. 16 in most states – one day later than usual. And there is record-breaking enrollment already, partly because millions of people recently disenrolled from Medicaid are now shopping for replacement coverage from the Marketplace,” said Louise Norris, health policy analyst for healthinsurance.org. “Consumers need to know they still have time – but not much more – to explore and select a Marketplace plan.”
Open enrollment is the annual period when consumers can enroll in Affordable Care Act (ACA) – also called Obamacare – health insurance on the Marketplace. This year, people in most states get an extra day because of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day federal holiday on Jan. 15. However, there are some exceptions, so consumers should check the deadline for their state.
Medicaid disenrollments help fuel record enrollment
Marketplace enrollment for 2024 coverage has already hit a record high, with about 20.9 million people enrolled in Marketplace plans nationwide by early January. Across just the states that use HealthCare.gov, enrollment was up 33% year-over-year, even before accounting for the fact that there is one fewer state – Virginia – using HealthCare.gov this year. Norris said the increase is fueled by several factors, including:
- Medicaid disenrollment: States are disenrolling people who had Medicaid but lost eligibility when the public health emergency ended. Many people who lost Medicaid coverage are shopping on the ACA Marketplace for replacement insurance. The federal government estimates about 2.7 million people who had Medicaid will qualify for financial help to lower the cost of a Marketplace plan.
- ACA subsidy availability: Federal subsidies help reduce the cost of Marketplace health plans for millions of people. Thanks to the American Rescue Plan and the Inflation Reduction Act, subsidies will continue to provide financial help to more people. Additionally, some states are offering new or enhanced state-funded subsidies for 2024, including California, Colorado and New Mexico.
- Family glitch fix. A recent federal change has also helped families with employer-based coverage. If the employer-sponsored family coverage is not considered affordable, the family members are potentially eligible for Marketplace subsidies.
“This will be the third year in a row we see record-high Marketplace enrollment,” Norris said.
Comparing coverage can help save money
“It’s important to review your coverage options during open enrollment each year,” Norris said. “Plans can change each year, as well as the cost.”
When reviewing health insurance options, healthinsurance.org suggests considering the following:
- Look beyond the premium. The premium is the amount you pay (typically monthly) for your health plan. “Lower premiums can be attractive, but you’ll want to also understand how much your total costs would be, including the amount you’ll pay in copays, coinsurance and deductible when you need medical care,” Norris says.
- Consider your needs and preferences. If certain prescription medications are important to you, choosing a plan that includes those prescriptions in its formulary could help save you money. The same holds true for healthcare providers: check if your doctors and hospitals are in-network with the health plans you consider.
- Seek free help with enrollment. There are resources available at no cost to consumers who have questions about the open enrollment process, or need help with their enrollment. A trained and certified enrollment assister, as well as a health insurance agent or broker, can provide helpful information.
Find more detailed information about open enrollment in healthinsurance.org’s ACA Open Enrollment 2024 Guide.
Healthinsurance.org provides online resources for consumers about individual and family health insurance. Healthinsurance.org, owned by Healthinsurance.org, LLC, has been providing consumer information about health insurance and health reform for over 25 years.
Amy Fletcher Faircloth [email protected]