Good News about Exchange Enrollees

So far, none of the doomsday scenarios predicted by critics of the Affordable Care Act have come true. It’s still way too early to call it a success: since many of the healthy small groups have 12/1 effective dates and the employer mandate hasn’t yet kicked in, we don’t know how many groups will drop coverage or shift employees to part-time. Still, it’s also way too early to declare it a failure.

In the past couple days, the administration has shared some good news about the individual market. First, it appears that most people are happy with their ACA-compliant coverage. This is something that President Obama predicted when people started receiving cancellation notices from their insurance companies last fall, and it appears he was right – while people might have “liked” their old plan, they like the new plans too. As The Hill reports, a new study by the Commonwealth Fund finds that “About 70 percent of people who bought healthcare plans through government exchanges said they were happy with their plans and believed they would receive high-quality care.” It appears, the article says, that the subsidies are doing what they were intended to do – make quality coverage available to families with low and moderate incomes.

The second piece of good news has to do with the number of people who have paid their bill and maintained ACA-compliant coverage. We’ve all heard that about 8 million people signed up for coverage during the initial enrollment period, and now we’ve learned from CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner that 7.3 million have paid their premiums and are still enrolled in the plans. That’s a 91% retention rate – much higher than most people predicted. And some of the individuals who no longer have coverage, Tavenner explains, may have become eligible for Medicaid or employer-sponsored coverage.

We’ve heard additional good news in recent weeks, including the fact that more insurance companies will be participating in the individual marketplace next year and that 2015 premiums are coming in lower than expected.

One other insight that came from Ms. Tavenner’s comments, as reported by the New York Times, is that, to date, Healthcare.gov has “had no malicious breach, no breach of personal information.” Let’s hope it stays that way.

Since it appears things are full steam ahead for the open enrollment period, the only thing left to ask is are you ready?

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