The Washington Post reports that Healthcare.gov is likely to open up for a new open enrollment period in the next couple of weeks:
Under one order, HealthCare.gov, the online insurance marketplace for Americans who cannot get affordable coverage through their jobs, will swiftly reopen for at least a few months, according to several individuals inside and outside the administration familiar with the plans. Ordinarily, signing up for such coverage is tightly restricted outside a six-week period late each year.
I think that this will be helpful in enrollment as there are some number of individuals and households that selected a plan in December but failed to complete the entire activation chain by mid-January. They had indicated a strong preference for insurance but got tripped up in the administrative burden. These folks are likely to take advantage of an extended Open Enrollment Period.
I think that a late winter/early spring OEP will be interesting from an attention span dynamic as well. We have strong evidence that people are financially stressed and cognitively overwhelmed around Christmas. Choosing insurance is a cognitively complex task. People with few attention reserves or resources are likely to rage quit even if they were unlikely to rage quit when they were not operating with no attention reserves. We are also entering the primary income tax and EITC return period where people are highly likely to get a big cash infusion. Big cash infusions are likely to lower stress and increase the ability of people to make better cognitively complex choices.
I also think that without increased advertising, outreach, elite messaging and support that a spring time OEP won’t do much. The Department of Health and Human Services has, to use a technical term, a big honking pile of money available for these purposes:
New analysis: If the Biden Administration reopens ACA enrollment, success likely depends on reversing Trump Administration cuts to outreach and consumer assistance. There appears to be over $1 billion in unspent HHS marketplace funds available to do so.https://t.co/ShR0pqPJKC
— Larry Levitt (@larry_levitt) January 25, 2021
Executing those contracts and staffing up while coming up with a plan will take some time but there are resources for outreach.