This post was written by Ted Henson and originally appeared on the National Association of Community Health Centers’ blog.
The second open enrollment period (also known as “OE2”) for health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act kicked off last month and early reports from health centers paint a much more positive picture compared to this time last year.
Nearly 65 percent of health center staff nationwide (who include Navigators, Certified Application Counselors, in-person assisters, and enrollment coordinators) report that the open enrollment period is going better than expected, according to a recent NACHC poll. Sixteen percent of respondents reported that the current open enrollment period is going about the same as this time last year while only six percent said that it was going either worse or much worse than last year.
Over half (54 percent) of respondents say they are meeting their enrollment targets, and just under 30 percent of respondents reported assist numbers that were below expectations.
The biggest challenge for enrollment was the affordability of some of the plans (50 percent of respondents). Other issues cited included problems accessing the health insurance exchanges because of incorrect login information (49 percent) and problems with the federal and state exchanges being offline or not working (36 percent). These responses track with early media reports during the first week of enrollment about technical problems with some state exchanges. There were also reports of people unable to access their accounts with user names and passwords.
The NACHC poll underscored the problem of health insurance literacy. Many people are gaining access to health insurance, often for the first time in their lives. Sixty percent of respondents to the NACHC poll reported that their consumers have some, but limited, knowledge of insurance terms and how to use their insurance. Assisters reported having to spend time during the enrollment process explaining terms to consumers and how to access care as a result of this challenge. Nearly 17 percent of respondents said that consumers are very confused by terms and how to access their care.
The poll consisted of 277 responses from 44 states.