One year ago today, after years of anticipation and preparation, all eyes turned to the new health insurance marketplaces as they opened for enrollment for the very first time. We knew there would be bumps along the way — and, yes, there were many — but they didn’t hold us back. Despite some dark days last fall, enrollment partners around the country rallied and did everything they could to find and educate consumers who stood to gain from new coverage options and to make sure these consumers got financial help and in-person assistance when needed. All told, these efforts helped over 15 million Americans enroll in high quality, affordable health coverage over the past year.
We know that there will still be challenges in the months to come. Websites have been improved, but they won’t be perfect. Walking consumers through the renewal process for the first time will require a learning curve and plenty of patience. With more plans available on the marketplace this year than last, consumers may need even more help making sense of their options. From six months down to three, the open enrollment period is literally only half as long as it was last time. Some states have newly expanded Medicaid; we will need to make special efforts to make sure those consumers know to come back and enroll after not having had the opportunity to last year. And the basic principles of statistics suggest that as we’ve shrunk the number of uninsured, finding those who remain will be harder.
But we’ve all learned a lot over the last year: the best ways to talk about coverage, how to plan and execute a successful enrollment event, the importance of having an outreach plan, the critical importance of in-person assistance (supporting and growing it, coordinating it, and promoting it), nurturing diverse coalitions, reaching key populations, and more. Our State of Enrollment report only began to scratch the surface of what this community has learned collectively over the last year.
So while there will more obstacles to overcome and much more to learn, we are eager for the next bite at the apple. There are millions more Americans who could get covered, and we want to reach them all.
So with 45 days to go before the second open enrollment period (OE2) begins, we’re excited to launch our #Ready4OE2 blog and webinar series today, jam-packed with best practices, tips, success stories, and tools that everyone in the enrollment community can put to use to ensure millions more #GetCovered and those who already have coverage #StayCovered.
Join us for our first webinar tomorrow, Round Two: Prepare for Success in the Second Open Enrollment Period (OE2), and follow the blog series at #Ready4OE2. Have an idea you want to push out? We’d love to feature it here, too.