Policy Would Allow Consumers to Automatically Re-Enroll in HIX Plans

Published Online: June 30, 2014
Katie Sullivan, MA
A proposed Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services ruling would make it easier for consumers to automatically re-enroll in their plans from the healthcare insurance exchanges if they liked them.

“As we plan for open enrollment in year 2 and continue to build a sustainable long-term system, we are committed to simplifying the experience for consumers by allowing auto-enrollment,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell. “We are working to streamline the process for consumers wishing to remain in their current plan.”

The process would function like employer-based health insurance plans which often automatically re-enroll plan holders each year. While advantageous for some, there are concerns. Insurers would have to reach out to enrollees to educate them about the process, and unlike employer-based plans, exchange enrollees have the opportunity to choose from more plan options. This might deter them from auto-enrolling in the same plan.

“Most enrollees in 2014 chose a plan based on the monthly premium. However, the lowest cost plans in 2014 may no longer be low cost in 2015,” said Elizabeth Carpenter, director at Avalere Health, in a media release.

One estimate suggested that 5 million HealthCare.gov enrollees — or 95% of current enrollees — will re-enroll for a plan in 2015 and receive a tax credit without having to take any action. Federal officials hope this will reduce the number of issues consumers and insurers face, especially with the website technology problems that were encountered during 2014 enrollment.

"They're trying to reduce disruptions in the marketplace by basically allowing people to do nothing and stay insured," said Caroline Pearson, a vice president at the consulting and research firm Avalere Health. "That avoids having people inadvertently fall out of coverage."

Around the Web

Re-Enrollment Policy Would Benefit and Challenge Insurers [Healthcare Payer News]

Obamacare's 95% Solution: Auto-Enrollment, with Subsidies [CNBC]

ACA Automatic Re-Enrollments Seen as Easing Election Uncertainty [Modern Healthcare]