EXCHANGES SHOULD INCLUDE ENHANCED DIRECT ENROLLMENT THROUGH PRIVATE SECTOR PARTNERS
Washington, D.C. (November 1, 2021): Coinciding with the beginning of the 2022 ACA open enrollment period, CAHC released its 4th annual report grading the performance of online options for enrollment that consumers can access. The report assesses the federally-facilitated exchange (healthcare.gov) and 15 state-based exchanges including the District of Columbia’s. They are graded on eleven factors, including integrated drug and provider directories, an out-of-pocket cost calculator, and language accessibility.
“With open enrollment starting, consumers will be utilizing the online marketplaces to make critical choices on their health care access and affordability,” said Joel White, President of CAHC. “Unfortunately, our report card continues to show a lack of initiative in using the latest technology to advance consumer interests. As more states stand up their own exchanges, leveraging private sector technology and avoiding government run solutions will be key to help families make the best choices for their health care.”
A core finding for the 2021 exchanges is that many states either incorporated or improved their integrated drug directories and out-of-pocket cost calculators. The exchanges evaluated shunned potential improvements to other features. Worse yet, the quality of some window-shopping features, namely layout, decreased for many exchanges. Healthcare.gov, the federally-facilitated exchange used in 36 states, ranked lower this year than in 2018, dropping by two in their ranking amongst the exchanges. Access Health CT featured the most dramatic improvement in index score with a whopping 26-point increase since 2018.
Recommendations to improve the functionality and utility of the government-run exchanges.
- As states seek to stand up new exchanges, they should require and fund enhanced direct enrollment (EDE) functionality that allows consumers to shop, select, and enroll in an ACA plan seamlessly through a private partner exchange.
- Exchanges should ensure consumers have access to and help from licensed, trained insurance agents.
- Exchanges should integrate robust, accurate, and up-to-date provider and drug directories in the window-shopping tool.
- Exchanges should strengthen consumers’ ability to accurately estimate total expected out-of-pocket costs by including (and updating where already included) a cost calculator and “smart sort” cost functions.
- During scheduled downtime for future Open Enrollment Periods, HHS should direct all traffic to private enrollment websites to ensure availability throughout Open Enrollment Periods.