As the 2016 open enrollment period begins, it’s worth reflecting on how far we’ve come: Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law, 17.6 million previously uninsured people have gained coverage. In the second open enrollment period alone, nearly 12 million consumers enrolled or re-enrolled in a marketplace plan, and more than half of them were women.
Millions of women and families across the country are experiencing the benefits of having affordable and comprehensive health coverage. They are able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing they can see a doctor or get a needed medication without undermining their financial security. They know that a pre-existing condition or a pregnancy won’t keep them from getting health coverage. They know they can get the screenings and preventive care they need to stay as healthy as possible, without expensive copays.
These are just a few of the tangible benefits of the ACA and one reason the National Partnership fought so hard for its passage.
We continue working to ensure that the health insurance marketplace does all it can to help consumers get the coverage that best meets their health care needs and financial circumstances. As part of that work, this year we released two reports with recommendations for making the health insurance marketplace easier for consumers to navigate: Supporting Informed Decision-Making in the Health Insurance Marketplace: A Progress Report and Lessons from the Frontlines: Strategies for Supporting Informed Consumer Decision-Making in the Health Insurance Marketplace. We’re pleased to see three of our recommendations incorporated into Healthcare.gov this year. Consumers looking for health coverage through the marketplace will now be able to:
- Estimate annual costs for each available health plan based on factors like age, sex, income, location and anticipated use of health care services;
- Search for health plans that include a specific doctor or hospital; and
- Search for health plans that cover specific prescription medications.
These new tools will support consumers’ informed decision-making by directing them to the information they need to select the right plan for themselves and their families – and enrolling in the right health plan is critical because it can affect people’s health and economic security for years to come.
The ACA is the greatest advance for women’s health in a generation. It has put more women and families on the path to better health, and it will continue to do so. We look forward to seeing how the new tools affect consumers’ experiences during this open enrollment period and beyond.
The third open enrollment is just beginning and it will continue through January 31, 2016. Learn more at www.Healthcare.gov and see the National Partnership’s comprehensive fact sheets at NationalPartnership.org/enroll.