Confusion is rampant, with many hurdles to overcome for a successful season.
The New York Times reports the Affordable Care Act has survived blow after blow since President Trump took office in January, including repeated attempts by Congress to repeal it. But as the fifth open enrollment period starts Wednesday, the law is reeling from continued attacks by Mr. Trump that have sown confusion and anxiety among the roughly 10 million Americans with coverage through its insurance marketplaces and millions more who remain uninsured.
Most recently, Mr. Trump announced plans to cut off subsidies that reimburse insurance companies for assistance they are required to provide to low-income customers who struggle with co-payments and deductibles. The cuts resulted in a crazy quilt of premiums for 2018 that differs radically from the pattern of the last four years, which will upend expectations of consumers in many states.
The enrollment period for the federal marketplace has been cut in half, to 45 days, with hardly any publicity by federal officials. No one is sure how well government call centers and computer systems will handle the expected surge of applications leading up to the Dec. 15 deadline for people to enroll through HealthCare.gov.
Kentucky provides an example of the effect of reduced advertising dollars on ACA awareness. After the ad budget was slashed by a new governor, enrollment on the Kentucky exchange fell from around 106,000 people in 2015 to about 81,000 this year. Healthy people need a reminder to sign up for insurance. Erika Franklin Fowler of the Wesleyan Media Project was quoted by Marketplace:
Advertising can be especially helpful in encouraging people to go and get insurance.
5 Things To Know About ACA At Year 5
1. The health law has NOT been repealed.
2. The requirement for most people to have insurance — and most employers to offer it — is also still in effect.
3. Like your mama said, you better shop around.
4. Cost will be a factor.
5. Buyers should also beware. For more detail on the 5 Things visit Kaiser Health News
It is hard to sell a product to someone that believes they will not need it. KQED quotes Christopher Graves, president and founder of Ogilvy’s Behavioral Science Center:
Health insurance has to be the toughest thing on earth to sell, especially if you’re trying to sell it to somebody who’s young, healthy and has not had some catastrophe health-wise.
That would be most Latinos in California, a primary target of the marketing and outreach strategy for Covered California, the state’s insurance marketplace. Read more about the human psychology of optimism and sales of insurance at KQED