October 27 – November 2, 2015

Open Enrollment Begins Again Under the Affordable Care Act: On November 1, the third open enrollment period (OE3) for the health insurance marketplaces began. In the first six hours of OE3, the federally facilitated marketplace (FFM) processed 40,000 applications. New plans and prices are available, and consumers have until December 15 to enroll in or renew marketplace coverage that will be effective January 1. OE3 will last through January 31. People can apply online, by phone (1-800-318-2596), by paper application, or with in-person assistance.

HHS Report on Savings for Enrollees Who Switch Plans: On average, people who switched to a different marketplace plan in the same metal level from 2014 to 2015 saved nearly $400 on premiums during the plan year, according to a Department of Health and Human Services report released October 28. The report analyzed coverage available in states using the HealthCare.gov enrollment platform, and HHS estimates that more than 8 in 10 current enrollees could find new plans in the same metal level with lower premiums for 2016.

New Policy Resource for Enrollment Assisters: Starting on November 2, the FFM is offering a new, dedicated hotline for assisters, the Assister Help Resource Center (AHRC), to help answer policy issues affecting consumers. AHRC representatives do not have access to consumers’ applications, and assisters should continue to contact the FFM call center to help consumers with specific application needs. The AHRC is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. ET and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET, and assisters can access the hotline number by contacting their program’s point of contact.

FFM Assister Training Now Available in Spanish: Enrollment assisters can now complete their online training in Spanish. All assisters need to take an updated training to be certified to assist consumers with applications for 2016 coverage.

Nonprofit Issuers in Two States No Longer Offering 2016 Coverage: In Arizona and Utah, nonprofit issuers created under the Affordable Care Act’s CO-OP program will not offer marketplace coverage in 2016 due to issues with financial stability. Consumers who are currently enrolled in those plans can select new coverage during open enrollment.

State Updates

  • California:
    • Bus Tour: Starting in Los Angeles on November 1, Covered California launched a 12-day bus tour that will attract attention to outreach and enrollment events throughout the state.
    • New Call Center Vendor: Covered California has awarded a $12 million contract to a call center vendor, Faneuil Inc., which will employ around 500 staff to answer questions and help enroll Californians in coverage.
  • Montana: On November 2, HHS approved Montana’s plan to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Montana is now the 31st state (including the District of Columbia) to adopt the expansion. Coverage will begin January 1, and starting now, Montanans can apply online, in person, or over the phone.
  • Oregon: Oregon’s supported state-based marketplace awarded grants to 24 insurance agents to create storefront locations for marketplace enrollment assistance.
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