CMS kicks off effort to help Marketplace enrollees stay covered
Consumers should come back to HealthCare.gov, reach out to the call center, or visit with an in-person assister to make sure they choose the plan that best meets their needs starting November 15
WASHINGTON, DC - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is committed to making it as easy as possible for current Health Insurance Marketplace enrollees to renew their coverage for 2015. It is encouraging consumers to come back at the start of Open Enrollment on November 15, update their 2015 application, and compare their options to make sure they enroll in the plan that best meets their budget and health needs for next year. In October, consumers began to receive notices from the Federally-facilitated Marketplace in the mail and in their HealthCare.gov accounts, explaining how they can renew their coverage during Open Enrollment.
CMS is working to make sure consumers have the assistance and information they need, this communication is just the beginning of an effort to help consumers stay covered. Importantly, to help simplify the re-enrollment process, when consumers return to HealthCare.gov starting on November 15 and initiate their 2015 application, 90 percent of their online application will already be filled out or pre-populated. In-person assistance will be available to help review an applicant’s options and find a plan that best suits their needs. Also, we are staffing up an additional 1,000 call center representatives this year over last year that will be available to answer questions and walk consumers through the coverage process.
“It’s important for people to come back to the Marketplace during Open Enrollment, because every year, insurance companies make changes to premiums, cost-sharing and benefits. And with 25 percent more issuers offering coverage in 2015, consumers have more plans to choose from and more issuers are competing to offer a better deal,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “This gives consumers the opportunity to shop and compare plans that may save them more money, offer more services or include more doctors in the network. We want consumers to have the most up-to-date information so they can make the right choice for them and their families.”
The notices consumers began receiving in October explained the renewal process and how they can return to the Marketplace between November 15, 2014, and December 15, 2014, to update their application for next year, shop for the plan that best meets their budget and health needs, and determine if they are eligible for financial assistance for coverage that begins as early as January 1, 2015.
If consumers do not return to the Marketplace to update their application, they generally will be auto-enrolled in the same plan - with the same amount of advance payment of the premium tax credit and same cost-sharing reductions – as the 2014 plan year. They can change plans during open enrollment through February 15, with coverage in their new plan starting on the first day of the next or second month depending on when they enroll.
To help consumers better understand the renewal process, CMS released the 5 Steps to Staying Covered – to make it as simple as possible for them to choose the plan that best fits their needs and budget. The consumer tested 5-step process includes:
1) Review: Plans change, people change – review your coverage and look for a letter from your plan about how your benefits and costs may change next year,
2) Update: Starting November 15, log in and update your 2015 application - make sure your household income and other information is up-to-date for next year,
3) Compare: Compare your current plan with other plans that are available in your area,
4) Choose: Select the health plan that best fits your budget and health needs, and
5) Enroll: The marketplace opens on November 15, make sure to review, update, compare and choose by December 15 to have any changes take effect on January 1. Contact your plan after you’ve enrolled and make sure you pay your first month’s premium.
The first piece of this education material is available at Marketplace.CMS.gov. Also, CMS will continue to adapt and modify its efforts to reach existing Marketplace consumers over the next weeks and months – using a wide range of outreach strategies including directly through mail, email, digital marketing efforts, and calls. Serving existing Marketplace customers and keeping them covered is a top priority this open enrollment period.
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