QuickTake: As of December, Most Uninsured Adults Who Planned to Obtain Coverage through the Marketplace Were Not Aware of the Open Enrollment Deadline
Michael Karpman, Stephen Zuckerman, and Fredric Blavin
February 5, 2015
The Affordable Care Act’s second open enrollment period for obtaining health insurance through the Marketplaces ends February 15, 2015. Between November 15, 2014, when the second open enrollment period began, and January 16, 2015, more than 7.1 million individuals enrolled or reenrolled in health insurance plans through the federal Marketplace.1 During approximately the same period, nearly 2.4 million enrolled in state-based Marketplaces.2 Despite these numbers, there may be many more adults who remain uninsured and still plan to enroll before the end of the open enrollment period.
In this QuickTake, we use data from the December 2014 Health Reform Monitoring Survey to assess how much adults ages 18 to 64 who were uninsured at the time of the survey understood about the Marketplaces and how likely they were to enroll in a health plan through a Marketplace. We also determine whether uninsured adults who had heard about the Marketplaces and planned to enroll were aware of the open enrollment deadline.
We find that as of December, approximately 70 percent of uninsured adults reported that they had heard “a lot,” “some,” or “only a little” about the Marketplaces (figure 1).3 In addition, 35 percent of all uninsured adults reported that they planned to enroll in a health plan through a Marketplace (figure 1). These findings were similar for the subset of uninsured adults who are in the Marketplace target population (those with income above 138 percent of the federal poverty level in states expanding Medicaid and those with income above 100 percent of the federal poverty level in states not expanding Medicaid; data not shown).
Though these estimates suggest the potential for further gains in national insurance coverage and increases in Marketplace enrollment through the end of the open enrollment period, we also found confusion about the open enrollment deadline. Over 4 in 10 uninsured adults who had heard about the Marketplaces and planned to enroll either did not know when the open enrollment period ended or thought it ended in March (figure 2). Nearly half (45 percent) thought the deadline was earlier than February, so they still had the opportunity to enroll after the time of the survey. Only 12 percent of uninsured adults who had heard about the Marketplaces and who planned to enroll actually identified the correct month when open enrollment ends. Although some uninsured adults may qualify for special enrollment periods after February 15 if they experience certain life changes, most uninsured adults in the Marketplace target population who do not enroll by the deadline will not be eligible for coverage through the Marketplaces until enrollment reopens in fall 2015.
Although many uninsured adults were aware of the Marketplaces and planned to enroll in a health plan as of December, the findings presented here show that there are still many who need to learn more about the Marketplaces. Even among those interested in enrolling, we find sufficient confusion about when open enrollment ends that many may miss the opportunity to purchase coverage for 2015.
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation. 2015. Health Insurance Marketplace 2015 Open Enrollment Period: January Enrollment Report. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services.
About the Series
This QuickTake is part of a series drawing on the HRMS, a quarterly survey of the nonelderly population that explores the value of cutting-edge Internet-based survey methods to monitor the Affordable Care Act before data from federal government surveys are available. Funding for the core HRMS is provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Urban Institute.
For more information on the HRMS and for other QuickTakes in this series, visit www.urban.org/hrms.
1 This figure includes enrollment in the 37 states that currently rely on the federal eligibility and enrollment platform, including three states that operate their own Marketplaces (Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon) (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation 2015).
2 As of mid-January, nearly 2.4 million people had selected Marketplace plans for 2015 in the 14 states using their own Marketplace platforms (Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation 2015). The data are from November 15, 2014, through January 17, 2015, for all states using their own platforms, with the exception of California, which reported data through January 18, 2015.