Second Open Enrollment (OE2) Period Off to a Smooth Start: The three-month open enrollment period for 2015 health coverage began on Saturday, November 15. HealthCare.gov successfully went live, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell reported that the site processed 100,000 applications during “opening weekend.” Consumers have until December 15 to enroll in marketplace coverage for January 1, and they can apply online, by phone (1-800-318-2596), by paper application, or with in-person assistance.
State-Based Marketplaces Successfully Launch New Enrollment Systems:
- Idaho: The state — which switched from HealthCare.gov to its own marketplace, Your Health Idaho, for OE2 — reported high traffic and no major glitches on November 15.
- Massachusetts: Since OE1, Massachusetts Health Connector replaced its technology vendor and overhauled its online enrollment portal. The new site worked without major glitches and processed nearly 12,000 eligibility determinations over the course of the weekend.
- Maryland: Maryland Health Connection is staggering the launch of its new enrollment system, allowing consumers to enroll in person at enrollment events starting November 15 and online on their own beginning November 19.
- Oregon and Nevada: Both states switched to the HealthCare.gov portal for OE2 and require consumers who enrolled in OE1 to re-enroll through the new systems. In Oregon no consumers will be auto-renewed for 2015. In Nevada, current enrollees will need to renew or they will lose their financial help.
- Vermont: After having been taken down for maintenance in September, the Vermont Health Connect’s website successfully re-launched on November 15.
Washington Healthplanfinder Fixes Tax Credit Calculations: Washington State’s marketplace came back online on November 16 after officials took it down November 15 to repair software errors in calculating tax credits. The state will be contacting consumers who were affected by the initial issue to give them their correct calculations.
New Guidance on Personally Identifiable Information: Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance clarifying how assisters interact with consumers’ Personally Identifiable Information (PII). The guidance provides example scenarios, FAQs, details about how assisters should obtain consumer consent, tips for appropriate use and sharing of PII with other organizations, conducting outreach and follow-up with consumers, and collecting and handling PII at enrollment events. CMS also released model consent forms for Navigators and Certified Application Counselors (CACs).
CMS Releases Data on Marketplace Plans for 2015: On November 14, CMS released data on the 2015 health plans available through marketplaces in each state. The data include information on the number of plans and issuers by county, as well as final approved rates. According to the data, 25 percent more issuers are offering plans, and 90 percent of consumers will have a choice of three or more issuers. Also on November 14, the Office of Personnel Management announced it was adding a second issuer to the Multi-State Program and expanding to offer plans in five additional states, for a total of 36 this year.
CMS Awards $3.9 Million for Outreach and Enrollment: On November 12, CMS announced it had awarded $3.9 million to outreach and enrollment efforts on Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for American Indian and Alaska Native children. The awards will go to health programs working in seven states (AK, AZ, CA, MS, MT, NM, OK) on outreach to schools and tribal agencies.