On the 15th, the Washington Post reported on some of the healthcare and health insurance administrative actions that the incoming Biden Administration can do to improve the ACA. There were two big chunks:
Insurance marketplaces, created under the law for people to buy ACA health plans if they cannot obtain affordable coverage through a job, could be reopened as part of a list of ideas being considered by a small crew of health-policy advisers on the transition team….
To attract people to those marketplaces, the advisers are interested in restoring millions of dollars that federal health officials cut during President Trump’s first two years in office for advertising and other outreach strategies to motivate consumers to sign up….
Paul Shafer and I found that the change in messaging, advertising as well as operationalization of the ACA exchanges led to a significant drop in enrollment on Healthcare.gov after January 20, 2017.
Paul Shafer, Seciah Aquino, Laura Baum, Erika Franlin Fowler, Sarah Gollust and I found that private advertising is not a substitute for governmental advertising. Paul, Laura, Erika, Sarah and I in some recently accepted work found, unshockingly, that private advertising incentives are not aligned to public goals.
In a current working paper with Coleman Drake, Sih-Ting Cai and Dan Sacks, we found that the extended open enrollment period offered in Colorado offered a meaningful opportunity for individuals to correct administrative errors that led to them not being covered on January 1st of the policy year. Healthcare.gov does not offer those opportunities for correction.
The Biden Administration has significant administrative powers to put their stamp and priorities on the operations of Healthcare.gov. Increasing advertising, outreach and navigation assistance easily falls into this bucket. Extending open enrollment periods or allowing for a broad “fix-it” period will also help people get and stay enrolled in coverage.