March 4, 2014 – March 10, 2014


  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued several new policy decisions for 2015 and beyond.
    • 2015 open enrollment extended by one month: The 2015 open enrollment period will last from November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015 (previously scheduled to end on January 15, 2015), making the annual open enrollment three months instead of two.
    • Consumers can keep their pre-Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage through 2016: Some individual market plans in 2013 did not meet new ACA standards and were discontinued by insurers. To accommodate consumers who wanted to keep these plans, the Administration previously decided to allow insurers to offer consumers the option to renew their 2013 health plans through 2014. This policy has now been extended until 2016, meaning consumers can keep their pre-ACA coverage for two additional years. As with the initial policy, states and issuers have the option to allow the extension; many states have decided not to allow the extension. Consumers whose plans have been cancelled can enroll in another plan with the same insurer or shop for new options on the marketplace.
    • Out-of-pocket maximums set for 2015: For the 2015 individual market, out-of-pocket maximum will be $6,600 for individuals and $13,200 for families (a slight increase over this year’s maximum of $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for families). The out-of-pocket maximum in the small group market also will change to $2,050 for individuals and $4,100 for families (up narrowly from $2,000 for individuals and $4,000 for families). The adjustments are lower than initially proposed.
    • New deadline for becoming a SBM: States now have until June 15, 2014 (moved from January 1, 2014) to get approval from HHS if they want to become a state-based marketplace (SBM).
    • Steps taken to avoid premium increases: HHS made adjustments to the reinsurance program to protect consumers from spikes in premium prices for the 2015 plan year.

Top Successes   

  • Outreach and enrollment efforts ramping up for the last month of open enrollment
    • HHS, administration, and elected officials are headlining events and drawing the public’s attention to health coverage:
      • State and local officials held dozens of enrollment events across the country this weekend.
      • The president, vice president, first lady, cabinet members, and senior administration officials have been reaching out to Latinos, African Americans, and younger Americans through targeted events and media, from President Obama participating in a town hall televised on the major Spanish-language outlets to White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough conducting interviews on sports radio.
    • SBMs are increasing outreach and advertising efforts, enrollment events, and customer assistance in this last month of open enrollment.
      • Colorado is opening a storefront enrollment center in downtown Denver this week.
      • Connecticut is extending its enrollment centers’ hours and Washington, DC, is extending call center hours.
  • Application process improvements continue
    • Federally facilitated marketplaces: Recent fixes to glitches include allowing family members with the same birthday (i.e. twins) to enroll in the same plan, and continuing to improve the immigrant application processes, including a new tip sheet for naturalized citizens.
    • Vermont: The Vermont Health Connect website can now can now support online payments and also has improved backend functionality.
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