November 15 marked the beginning of the second year of Obamacare, and Open Enrollment is currently underway in our state via Covered California. Though its first year was rocky, mostly due to technical glitches and the ensuing media frenzy, the Obama administration expects about 9 million people to sign up for health insurance this fall.
If you’re wondering how Obamacare has changed over the past year, here’s a rundown of the most important facts:
- The original estimate for sign-ups last year was 7.1 million. Despite numerous difficulties nationwide, total sign-ups eventually reached 8 million.
- About 90 percent of those who signed up for health insurance remained enrolled, with about 10 percent dropping coverage due to non-payment of premiums.
- About 26 percent of those sign-ups were from people aged 26 to 34, the demographic that analysts were most worried would neglect to purchase health insurance. The system depends heavily upon premiums from young, healthy people who rarely require expensive health care.
- Some states, like Massachusetts, have revamped their exchange websites after a rocky start last year. Covered California has upgraded its site as well.
- The prices of some plans which were popular last year are increasing by about 3-4 percent.
- However, when automatically re-enrolling in their plans, some consumers may find that the premiums have increased by 9 to 10 percent. In order to get the best prices, consumers will need to shop around each year. However, automatically re-enrolling will be the most time-effective course of action, because many consumers will not want to switch doctors or do intensive research to compare different health insurance plans.
- A entire supportive market has sprung up around the exchanges. An entrepreneurial company called hCentive designed the software responsible for online exchange success in Kentucky and Colorado, and has now been enlisted by Massachusetts to solve their website difficulties. HealthSherpa is providing a service to help consumers navigate the complicated healthcare.gov system, while Healthcare.com provides a free subsidy calculator and other tools to help consumers compare health insurance plans.
- About 5 percent of Americans are now insured through an exchange.
So how will Open Enrollment for 2015 shape up, as compared to 2014? Time will tell, but considering the improvements we’ve seen in the system, we can tentatively estimate that this year’s sign-ups will surpass those of last year.