While most of the problems that plagued the launch of Obamacare have been resolved, round two of enrollment could still be a challenge. And, some believe enrollment under the Affordable Care Act could prove to be even tougher this time around than the first. Currently, an estimated 30 million to 40 million people remain uninsured in the United States, and some plan to remain that way, citing that it’s not a priority for them right now. On the flip side, those who eagerly awaited the chance to get covered at the outset already are, including many who had been refused insurance in the past due to pre-existing health conditions. Whether everyone will participate in the program next month remains to be seen, but one thing is certain, they will certainly have the opportunity.
Of those who remain uninsured, some of them are people who didn’t get the message the first time. Of course, had it not been for countless computer glitches during the opening period, along with other missteps that delayed sign-ups, enrollment would have possibly gone much smoother. Still, more than 7.3 million people purchased health plans through new insurance marketplaces…and, there were nearly 8 million low-income enrollees in Medicaid. As a result of the concerted effort, the nation’s uninsured rate dropped to its lowest level since 2008.
However, several things will be different this time, as states and the federal government move to renew all those people who signed up last year, but to also increase the overall numbers by bringing an additional 6 million currently uninsured residents to the exchanges, and 4 million more to Medicaid. These estimates are according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Another difference is that, unlike the initial enrollment period, this one will be under a time restraint – the second open enrollment will last only three months…about half the length of the first round. So, unless the enrollment is extended due to more glitches with web sites, studying the exchanges and deciding on the insurance that is right for you will have to be done within a shorter time span. Meanwhile, the federal government is feeling the pinch, as well as the November 15 start date is fast approaching, and testing continues to ensure the site can handle the demand without crashing.
Health officials and Affordable Care advocates plan to alter their approach. Although many uninsured were persuaded to sign up because the pitch stressed the benefits of having health insurance coverage, the new plan will be to focus on the financial assistance program available to consumers. The penalty for those without insurance could face a fine of $325 per person or 2 percent of their income, whichever is the greater of the two.
Many people thought they’d take their chances last year and dismissed the penalty as well as the insurance mandate. But, officials expect the higher fines to be more of a factor in prompting people to reconsider their need for health coverage.
For the uninsured, now would be the perfect time to begin to analyze the coverages that make the most sense for your family and personal situation alike. Remember, November 15 is the scheduled start date for open enrollment. The more you know ahead of time…the easier signing up will be.
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