In just six days, the third annual ACA Open Enrollment Period begins, and it should be pretty interesting. Here are a few things you need to know about open enrollment:
1. First, there should be a lot of movement this year. Some carriers are moving into new markets, some carriers are leaving, and a LOT of carriers are making changes to their plans and provider networks. That will cause many people to shop for coverage.
2. All of this movement will be a hassle for brokers who have a lot of existing ACA business because they’ll spend more time with current clients than they did last year. For brokers with a private exchange, though, they have someone else to handle the renewals, so they can spend all their time helping people who are shopping for a new plan.
3. More brokers will be selling ACA individual plans this year, but there will be fewer navigators to assist people. Several states are reducing the number of “assisters.”
4. Some people who received a tax credit last year will not qualify again this year because they failed to file a tax return and complete the reconciliation process for 2014 like they were required to. When you’re signing people up, make sure they understand the qualifications not only to receive but to continue to receive the advance premium tax credit.
5. Employers will continue to evaluate their options, but with another year of transition relief available in the small group market, many companies will be able to avoid the modified adjusted community rating rules in 2016. This means that we probably won’t see a huge shift from employer-sponsored to individual coverage. Still, there are a lot of companies that don’t currently offer health insurance, and they can serve as a great source of leads for agents.
6. Companies that do offer group health insurance can be another great source of leads. Why? Because employers usually don’t pay for dependents, and a lot of companies have part-timers who don’t qualify for the group health insurance. All of these folks need coverage.
7. While the open enrollment period is three months long, anyone who wants coverage by January 1st needs to sign up by December 15th. So it’s better to think of the open enrollment period as six weeks long and then adjust your strategy halfway through.
8. And, finally, there’s a huge opportunity in the individual market, but if you want to take full advantage of the opportunity, you need to work smarter, not harder. This means that you need to be efficient with your time so you can help as many people as possible. An individual private exchange can give you the technology and support you need to maximize your time—and your sales.
Best of luck during this year’s open enrollment period. And to our HPA partners: we’ll be here to help any way we can and to ensure that this is your most successful year yet.