Short Takes On News & Events

Consumers Can Take First Step To Enrolling In New Insurance Options Today

By Phil Galewitz

August 5th, 2013, 2:03 PM

Consumers in most states can start the process of enrolling in Obamacare today — but they won’t be able to compare health insurance prices or buy coverage in the new federally run insurance online marketplaces until Oct. 1, administration officials said Monday.

Kathleen Sebelius (File Photo by Jessica Marcy/KHN)

People in the 34 states relying on a federal insurance exchange can go to starting today to open a personal account — the first step to buying coverage that would take effect Jan. 1. (Sixteen states and the District of Columbia are setting up their own online marketplaces, and several have already released pricing information although enrollment does not begin until Oct. 1.)

To set up the personal account, users enter some basic information such as state of residence, age and whether they are eligible for coverage through their employer.

The administration is hoping to draw more interest in the new insurance options by letting people begin the enrollment process now.

“We are on target and ready to flip the switch on Oct. 1,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said during a telephone briefing with reporters.

Sebelius said reports from several states that premiums will soar “are not accurate.” She did not name the states but insurance commissioners in Florida and Ohio have said average rates will increase at least 30 percent to 40 percent next year and blamed the federal health law, which requires insurers to sell to everyone and prohibits plans from charging more to those with pre-existing medical conditions.

States were required to submit their insurance rates to HHS for final review by July 31. HHS plans to sign contracts with insurers in the federally fun marketplace by early September.

10 Responses to “Consumers Can Take First Step To Enrolling In New Insurance Options Today”

  1. Larry says:

    Rabid anti-Obama Republicans, intent on pointing to the exact day open enrollment begins as Healthcare Armageddon, will be pointing at a moving target from now on. By allowing consumers to enroll beginning today, it takes the wind out of sails of Obamacare opponents.

  2. Thomas says:

    “You have to buy the insurance to see whats in it ” . — HHS Kathleen Sebelius

  3. Ollie says:

    “You have to buy the insurance to see what’s in it” is obviously an accurate way to describe the pre-historic healthcare system that we have had to endure up until now. That all changes for the better on Januariy 1st, 2014.

  4. Jenny says:

    Lest the article was not explicit enough, the process of enrollment begins today–NOT enrollment itself. Opening a personal account allows one to answer questions about current health insurance coverage as well as variables that may affect future plan options, such as pregnancy or pre-existing conditions. Enrollment will not take place until October 1 at which point consumers will be able to compare plan options. This renders Sebelius’ statement irrelevant.

  5. I am working in the health care collaborative in Camden, NJ to usher the new care plans on Oct 1. I would like all the help I can get with this. I find this most helpful.

  6. Kathyy Callaghan says:

    Joe, see a broker. We’re recommending that companies in Vermont see a broker. The brokers have had to take a deep dive into the details and minutia of the Exchange in order to serve their clients. My other suggestion is to o to and then into Health Insurance Marketplace. There are a ton of Q&As there that should answer a lot of your questions. Don’t forget, there are 34 states who are not implementing their own exchange, so the Feds have to have the answers ready for those folks.
    Good luck!

  7. Robert says:

    It will not take long for consumers to learn how the exchanges work and what products are offered. It’s not rocket science! Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. An apple (Bronze Plan) will eventually be the exact same apple (Bronze Plan) as the rest of the apples (Bronze Plans) in the exchange regardless of which private insurer you choose. Same will be true with the other three insurance choices. No more “chincy” insurance products. The four plans that will be offered in the exchanges will be comprehensive insurance products at competitive prices. They will offer much more benefits than most consumers experience today. Gone are the corrupt profit driven private brokers. We will have non-profit “navigators” that will have no bias and no skin in the game. They will be paid to tell you the truth and guide you to the correct private insurance product. Unlike the non-profit navigators, private insurance brokers must make a profit or they go broke. In the exchanges, private brokers will not be allowed to practice their corrupt game of skimming off a share of the deal for themselves. The health exchanges will be like turning on the kitchen light and watching the cockroaches scatter to find a dark place to hide.

  8. Patrick M says:

    I believe the ovewhelming majority of Brokers are guided by integrity & the financial incentive to help their clients minimize insurance costs lest they lose their client to other Brokers who will, successful retention of client relationships determine broker profits whether they are compensated by commissions or advisor fees in exchange for their services. Now that individuals and small employers (2-50) will have access to standarized exchange products that require no medcial underwriting or rating loads will provide “firm” pricing information to compare to non- exchange options, however, without mandatory participation, adverse selection over time results in the healthiest risks seeking/obtaining competively lower costs. Brokers are merely skilled ‘middle men” profiting from thier ability to reduce their clients costs, save them time and optimize the quality of their benefits outlay.

  9. Harry says:

    Shut down the government? Over healthcare reform? Isn’t that the exact same Republican strategy that got America’s credit rating reduced in 2011? Isn’t the exact same Republican strategy that got Obama a second term? Hey GOP, can you spell moron?

  10. Harry says:

    Do not allow the foxes to guard the hen house. The health exchanges should be off limits to private brokers. It’s enough that private health insurance companies are allowed to market their products on the exchange. Brokers will just add more confusion which will add more cost. No brokers allowed! They can not be trusted!