A Marketplace Odyssey: Countdown to October 1 (19 Days)

Part of an ACHP blog series tracking health policy updates in anticipation of the start of the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment on October 1.

19 days until open enrollment:

“It’s an amazing time,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told Politico last week.

Congress returned from recess on Monday, and with Syria, defense spending, immigration and other high-stakes decisions looming, health care reform has competition for its attention.

The Obama administration just announced the completion of a crucial aspect of the exchanges – the complex “data hub” that will move information between agencies to facilitate the insurance exchanges. Meanwhile, Republican infighting continues on the best way to block, delay or ignore the law. With less than three weeks to go before open enrollment begins under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) we examine some critical questions.

What will premiums look like in the individual exchanges?

The Washington Post WonkBlog’s Sarah Kliff analyzes premium data. In particular, she focuses on a comprehensive new Kaiser study that uses actual rates from 17 states and the District of Columbia. One chart illustrates how much a 40-year-old who earns $28,725 will pay for insurance in 18 cities; another shows premiums for a 60-year-old who earns the same. The numbers exist; now the public will have to judge  how affordable they are.

Are navigators preparing?

Three years ago, the advocacy groups charged with explaining the ACA to everyday American citizens seemed to be the least controversial part of the president’s health care law. Now, Republican members of congress, Republican state leaders, insurance brokers and other skeptics question the ethics and boundaries of relying on to people going door-to-door and 24-hour hotlines to spell out the ACA. Sixteen states have legislation on the table to regulate navigator roles.

Overall, the Associated Press reports, nonprofit groups are on a fairly short timeline to hire and train navigators. The Washington Post makes the case for why those grassroots actions are necessary.

Who else is getting involved?

Bill Clinton; Rite Aid; 2012 Super Bowl champs.

How and when will we evaluate whether the health care overhaul is a success?

In some cases, it is an easy answer, Bloomberg shows.

Economists are split.

The National Journal suggests weeding the facts from the hype.

Ultimately, the Los Angeles Times writes, it comes down to where you live.

What will happen on October 1?

Online enrollment will begin, and that data hub will go to work – but most likely, not much else, experts say. The Obama administration, careful not to put too much weight on any given date, has reiterated that October 1 is an arbitrary deadline. At the very least, summer break is over: Policymakers should put some aloe on that sunburn and get ready for the changes ahead.


-Sophie Schwadron
ACHP Intern

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