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The Affordable Care Act: Consumers will assess value over time

Jun 25 2014

More than 8 million people enrolled in the Health Insurance Marketplace plans during the first extended enrollment period spanning 2013 and 2014.

“Any program that is this complex and calls for a full-scale system redesign is bound to have challenges along the way,” said Karen S. Rohan, executive vice president of Local and Regional Businesses, which includes public exchanges. “The real proof of these new marketplaces will be seen over the course of several years as consumers rate the promise of access to high-quality, affordable health care.”

Overall, the percentage of Americans without health insurance continues to fall. Since the fourth quarter of 2013, the rate has dropped from 17.1 percent to 15.9 percent, according to a recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being report. Still, significant challenges remain in the new era of affordable health care.

One challenge is convincing young adults — ages 18 to 35 — to enroll in health plans. As of March, just 35 percent of signups were young adults. Enrolling young people is important because this population tends to be healthier and their health care costs are not as expensive as older populations who typically require a higher level of care. If there aren’t enough younger members paying premiums to balance the costs of the older population, it could lead to a significant increase in the premiums people pay.

One factor that certainly impacted 2014 enrollment statistics was the highly-publicized technical issues. For example, HealthCare.gov was shut down on ‘Get Covered America’s National Youth Enrollment Day’ in February 2014.

Insurers are already planning campaigns for the next enrollment period. The key to a successful 2015 enrollment will be a steady hand from the Administration.

“Although the initial roll-out was rocky, enrollment in the exchanges has allowed many to access the health care system, perhaps for the first time,” Rohan said. “The goal now is to focus on the changes that are necessary to improve the consumer experience and stabilize the marketplace so that it can continue to meet the evolving needs of the people we serve.”