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Smart Benefits: Obamacare Exchanges: Enrollment Expectations

Monday, October 06, 2014


Last month, the Obama administration announced that 7.3 million people are now enrolled in health insurance plans on the Obamacare exchanges. With the second open enrollment period beginning on November 15, how are the numbers expected to stack up next year? Several factors could play a role in enrollment figures:

-Enrollment Period: The 2015 open enrollment period will end Feb. 15, and be about three months shorter than Obamacare's first season.
-Plan Options: The number of insurers set to sell health plans on Obamacare exchanges next year is 25 percent higher than for 2014, meaning more choices for consumers.
-Tax Penalties: About 30 million people remain uninsured and will face tax penalties for the first time unless they can secure an exemption.
-Website Availability: The technology glitches that plagued HealthCare.gov may be largely resolved.
-Premium Rates: According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, in the 38 states and D.C. that have finalized rates or released proposed rates for individual insurance plans, the average premium would rise 6 percent from last year to $382 per month, before subsidies are factored in. Despite this average, however, actual premium costs vary significantly, for example, from a 22% decrease to a 35% increase (in Colorado).

The Congressional Budget Office has projected that 13 million will enroll in Obamacare exchanges next year. But these and other factors may impact whether the numbers reach their target – or if, as Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell recently said – that target needs to be reassessed.

Amy Gallagher has over 21 years of healthcare industry experience guiding employers and employees. As Vice President at Cornerstone Group, she advises large employers on all aspects of healthcare reform, benefit solutions, cost-containment strategies and results-driven wellness programs. Amy speaks regularly on a variety of healthcare-related topics, and is often quoted by national publications on the subject matter. Locally, Amy is a member of SHRM-RI, the Rhode Island Business Group on Health, and the Rhode Island Business Healthcare Advisory Council.


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