Open Enrollment – good for individual, bad for group

The Federal Times is reporting that more than 1 million people have already signed up for coverage through Healthcare.gov and that the site, for the most part, is functioning properly. That’s good news for agents selling individual plans through their HPA private exchange site – it means that the subsidy applications, which are dependent on the federal site working properly, aren’t being delayed like last year. It also means that we were correct in our prediction that there would be a lot of interest in individual coverage this year. Hopefully you’re taking full advantage of the opportunity.

We were also correct in our prediction that small businesses wouldn’t be interested in the SHOP exchange. According to the Washington Post, the site has only seen 13% of the traffic that Healthcare.gov has had, and brokers and employers are reporting glitches similar to those that plagued the individual exchange last year. It’s too early to say whether the lack of interest in the SHOP means that small groups are dropping coverage and letting their employees purchase coverage in the individual market or simply purchasing group coverage outside of the SHOP. It’s probably a little of both, though we’re unlikely to see a huge departure from group coverage until there’s an outcry from employees whose families are being blocked from the federal subsidies by the availability of group coverage. Small employers in many states had the option this year of renewing their existing non-compliant coverage (transitional plans) and therefore have yet to see their premiums spike due to the new rating rules.

Don’t forget that December 15th is the cutoff date for a January 1st effective date. That’s less than two weeks away…

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