Recent news reports have raised concerns that the federal government will enroll some people who get their health insurance coverage through the federal marketplace with insurers they haven’t chosen. That’s not so. In the 38 states covered by the federal marketplace whose insurers won’t offer coverage in 2017, people will be matched with new insurers but they won’t be enrolled in these plans unless they pay their first month’s premium. Moreover, they’ll have ample time to shop for a new plan.
November 1 marks the start of open enrollment in health reform’s marketplaces and, during that time, people can change their health plan or enroll in one for the first time. Most people who are enrolled in a plan and don’t return to the marketplace by December 15 — the deadline for coverage that takes effect on January 1 — will be re-enrolled in their current plan.
For those who can’t be re-enrolled because their plan no longer participates in the federal marketplace, the marketplace will contact them to let them know that they should select a new plan. In addition, the marketplace will match them with a new plan — but they won’t be enrolled unless they pay the first month’s premium.
Last year, 70 percent of enrollees in the federal marketplace came back to update their information and pick a plan. Of this group, 61 percent picked a new plan. Everyone should return to the marketplace because they can update their income and household information to make sure they’re getting the right amount of financial help and determine whether their current plan is still best for them. That’s especially important for people whose insurers are no longer participating and, based on last year’s experience, most people in this group likely will return to make an active choice.
By matching people to a new plan, the marketplace is providing a backstop for those who don’t return, allowing them to stay covered by paying their premium to the new plan. Without this backstop, these people would likely become uninsured.