Why It’s Important for People to Take Action by the December 15 Deadline, and How You Can Get Ready

By Zachary Baron

As Enroll America looks back at the relevant data and best practices from these first few open enrollment periods, one lesson is quite clear: Deadlines matter! Every eligible marketplace consumer needs to know that they must enroll by the December 15 deadline for their coverage to start on January 1 — this way individuals and families can start the New Year with the peace of mind that comes with comprehensive coverage.

The days before the deadline are crunch time for everyone working on outreach and enrollment. Below are a few tips to keep in mind as you engage consumers leading up to December 15:

Prepare for More People to Be Looking for In-Person Assistance.

Looking at the data on how people used the Get Covered Connector during OE2, we see that consumers made more appointments and were more likely to enroll during them right before deadlines. Twice as many consumers completed appointments through the Connector in the two weeks leading up to the December 15 deadline as compared with the first two weeks of OE2. That data also showed how popular weekend appointments were, especially Saturdays at 10 a.m. Put together, that all means that this weekend — the weekend right before a big deadline — could be a blockbuster. In-person assisters should prepare appropriately in advance to ensure they have adequate capacity to serve an influx of consumers prior to December 15.

Link the Deadline to Other Key Messages.

The fine for consumers without health coverage can serve as a powerful motivator for uninsured consumers to get covered. During OE2, our email message testing found that mentioning the fine along with the deadline performed better than just mentioning the deadline. The enrollment community should think of ways to weave the significance of the deadline into existing messages about the fine, financial help, and in-person assistance.

Follow Up to Reinforce Need for Swift Action.

Data-driven and systematic follow-up programs work to connect consumers to coverage. Enroll America staff and volunteers have followed up with hundreds of thousands of consumers by phone to inform them about their new options, connect them to local in-person help, and help them make a plan to get covered. Our follow-up program has always highlighted deadlines as a way to motivate consumers to take action. Enrollment groups that reach out to consumers by phone should stick with consistent messaging through a short script that emphasizes the December 15 deadline over the next week.

Explain Why People Who Are Uninsured AND People Who Are Already Enrolled Should All Take Action by December 15.

Whether you are reaching out to uninsured consumers or existing marketplace enrollees renewing coverage, everyone should be informed about the importance of taking action by December 15 to see what financial help they qualify for, compare plans, and enroll in coverage. New plans and new prices are available every year, and this consumer-friendly infographic explains three simple steps for returning shoppers to take to stay covered in the best plan for the best price.

Putting all of those four points to work, let’s make sure that as many consumers as possible start the new year with confidence because they’ve signed up for coverage that fits their needs and budget.

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