Open enrollment for 2016 marketplace exchange plans begins Sunday, November 1. Individuals and families will be able to enroll, re-enroll, or change their health plans from November 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016.
Several new features have been added to HealthCare.gov to ease enrollment for consumers. For the first time, consumers may preview 2016 exchange health plans and premium prices before open enrollment begins. Federal officials from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) are encouraging consumers to use this feature to evaluate premium prices in particular, because in many places they may be higher than last year. An online, out-of-pocket expense calculator has also been added to the website to help consumers estimate deductibles and co-payments as well as the monthly premiums.
HHS is also developing additional tools that will tell consumers if a particular plan includes a consumer’s doctor and what drugs are covered under an insurer’s list of approved drugs. These tools are still being tested and will debut later.
As was the case for the 2015 plan year, HealthCare.gov will renew coverage for enrollees who take no action, although they will not necessarily be enrolled in the same plan. Instead, CMS will use a set of income and eligibility metrics to determine an appropriate plan. States with their own exchanges will make individual decisions about automatic reenrollment.
HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced October 15 that it is predicted that about 10 million people will have active exchange coverage by the end of 2016, less than half of the 21 million that the Congressional Budget Office had predicted and about 1 million more than the number of consumers currently enrolled in exchange health plans.