In early September, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published its Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters for 2018, seeking feedback from the outreach and enrollment community. This is a proposed rule issued annually by CMS to create and update policies on a wide range of individual and market issues, with the aim to strengthen the risk pool, boost enrollment, and promote innovation in the marketplaces.
In our comments to CMS, and building on our recommendations for the next administration, we touched on a variety of issues important for consumers, such as standardized plan options, enhanced direct enrollment, and Special Enrollment Periods (SEPs), but focused primarily on the user fee and the need to enhance funding for outreach and education. As we’ve learned from our own experience contacting millions of consumers, investing in outreach and education is essential to maximizing enrollment over time:
- Mathematica Policy Research has done several evaluations of Enroll America’s outreach and education campaign that suggest that a robust, data-driven outreach campaign can significantly boost enrollment.
- Marketplaces like Covered California have led the way by investing in a robust outreach and enrollment strategy in 2013, and saw the best risk mix in the nation in 2014 and 2015.
With this in mind, we called on CMS to double (at least!) its proposed increase in the amount of funding they devote to marketplace outreach. This would bring dedicated funding for outreach up to a minimum of 30 percent of premium revenues or about 1 percent of premiums (up from 15 percent of revenue and about 0.5 percent of premiums).
CMS has the ability to reach the majority of current and potential marketplace enrollees. The amount of money allocated at the federal level sends a clear message about the importance of outreach across the country.
You can read our full comments here.