New Renewal Guidance From the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): On April 23, HHS released updated guidance on how 2015 marketplace enrollees will renew their coverage for 2016. Similar to last year, consumers will receive information from the marketplace and their insurance company on key renewal dates, how their plan may be changing, and how their financial help will be determined for 2016. Unlike last year, the financial help amounts for most enrollees will be adjusted based on new income and premium data even if enrollees do not take action. Current enrollees who did not properly file their 2014 federal income taxes will need to take action before they can continue to receive financial help. Even with the automatic data updates, it will continue to be important for consumers to return to the marketplace, update their family and income information for the coming year, and re-assess their plan options to ensure they have coverage that meets their needs and budget for the 2016 plan year.
Tax Special Enrollment Period (SEP) Ends April 30: For consumers in most states, Thursday, April 30, is the last day to get covered through an SEP for uninsured consumers who faced a tax penalty for not having coverage in 2014. So far, based on enrollment numbers that have been publically reported, more than 100,000 consumers have gained coverage through this SEP. This includes all federally facilitated marketplaces (FFMs) and two state-based marketplaces (California and Washington State):
- FFM: More than 68,000 enrolled from March 15 through April 13.
- California: 22,659 enrolled from February 23 through April 12.
- Washington State: More than 16,000 enrolled from February 17 through April 17.
Survey: People Enrolled in Marketplace Health Coverage Are More Satisfied Than Non-Marketplace Enrollees: On April 23, J.D. Power released survey results finding that consumers who had enrolled through the marketplace in 2014 were as satisfied or more satisfied with their coverage than consumers who had non-marketplace health insurance. The survey found that cost was the most influential factor driving satisfaction for marketplace enrollees. In addition, satisfaction with the marketplace enrollment process significantly increased from 2014 to 2015.
Technical Fixes to HealthCare.gov Enrollment Platform: On April 17, HealthCare.gov fixed a glitch in which dependents’ Social Security income had been incorrectly counted. This had led some consumers to receive inaccurate eligibility determinations when applying for coverage through the FFM. Consumers who have dependents with Social Security income and who enrolled in marketplace coverage should contact the marketplace to make sure their income information and level of financial help is correct. HHS will be issuing guidance for affected individuals who applied but were not determined eligible for financial help on how to access a SEP soon.