Drawing On Lessons Learned to Improve Open Enrollment for 2016

by | Jun 23, 2015 | ACA

The third open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance marketplaces is fast-approaching — it begins November 1, 2015 — and now is the opportunity for policymakers and marketplace administrators to harness lessons learned from the previous enrollment periods to improve the plan comparison and selection process this fall.

This is where a new study from the National Partnership for Women & Families can help: it identifies important strategies for supporting consumer understanding of how health insurance works and highlights best practices for helping consumers compare plans and sign up for health insurance.

The study, Lessons from the Frontlines: Strategies for Supporting Informed Consumer Decision-Making in the Health Insurance Marketplace, summarizes findings from interviews with national consumer assistance experts and Navigators in California, Colorado, Florida and Illinois. The report offers specific recommendations to policymakers and marketplace administrators to improve the consumer enrollment experience, including:

  • Policymakers and marketplace officials should continue developing materials and tools that help consumers understand what health insurance is, how it works and what basic terms mean.
  • Marketplace websites should provide consumers with a checklist of information that prospective enrollees will need to have on hand before they begin shopping for insurance, such as current doctors’ names and the names and dosages of prescription medications.
  • Marketplaces should continue developing and improving four fundamental tools that help people compare and select plans: the Summary of Benefits and Coverage template; an integrated provider directory; an integrated prescription drug directory; and an out-of-pocket cost calculator.
  • Marketplaces should help ensure that online plan information is complete, accurate and up-to-date. There should also be systems in place for consumers, consumer assistance experts and Navigators to report errors.

Lessons from the Frontlines complements and builds on a National Partnership study released earlier this year, Supporting Informed Decision-Making in the Health Insurance Marketplace: A Progress Report. Together these reports offer an array of recommendations that policymakers and administrators should work to implement as they ramp up for 2016 open enrollment.

You can read the full report here and view a news release about the report here.