The three-month ACA open enrollment period starts just two months from today. Are you ready? That’s a question a lot of people seem to be asking the administration and the government agencies charged with implementing the law.
The answer we’re hearing from the top is “yes and no”. While HHS certainly doesn’t expect the technical glitches that plagued last year’s rollout, they do still expect some confusion because of the auto-renewal feature and continued difficulties calculating subsidies. Getting people signed up will also be a challenge, partly because of the shorter enrollment period (three months this year vs. six months last year) and the fact that, last year, agents, navigators, and others focused on the “low hanging fruit,” leaving fewer easy sales for this year.
A new article in the Wall Street Journal discusses this season’s promotion strategy. There are a few key changes:
First, Enroll America, who is instrumental in the government’s enrollment efforts, will be using the stick approach this year, talking about the penalties people will pay if they do not sign up for coverage. And, as we all know, those penalties are at least twice as large in 2015 for people who choose to remain uninsured. During the last enrollment season, the administration chose to focus on the positive – on the benefits of the law – as opposed to the negative. As the article says, “It turns out the so-called individual mandate actually does motivate some people to sign up, research suggests.”
Second, ACA advocates will be placing a greater emphasis on deadlines in their marketing campaigns. People tend to wait until the last minute and tend to respond to deadlines, as evidenced by the late enrollment surge during the last open enrollment period. The timeframe is certainly shorter this year, but the fact that there is a deadline will still motivate action.
Finally, advertisements will feature testimonials of people who signed up for coverage and who have had good experiences. You’ll hear things like “I only pay about 70 bucks a month for it.”
As we do our last-minute preparation for a busy and hopefully fruitful three-month enrollment period, it’s good to know what our clients and prospects will be hearing. From the reports, it sounds like the government will be creating a lot of interest. The trick is to use that to your advantage – let the government do the advertising but you get the sales. If you want to be successful, you need to be able to sign up a lot of people at once.