The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that starting today consumers can preview 2021 healthcare plans and prices on HealthCare.gov. This is an opportunity for consumers to compare coverage options ahead of Open Enrollment for the Federal Health Insurance Exchange, which officially kicks-off on November 1. As in previous years, window shopping allows consumers and those assisting consumers, such as licensed brokers and Navigators, to browse plans without logging in, creating an account, or filling out the official application.
There are many good reasons for consumers to compare plans, including lower premiums and more plan options. Last week, CMS released a report showing the third consecutive year of improving market conditions under the Trump Administration’s new policies. Three years of declining average second lowest cost silver plan (benchmark plan) premiums have combined to deliver an 8% premium reduction across HealthCare.gov since the 2018 coverage year. Many consumers coming to HealthCare.gov will also find they have more options given that issuer participation has also increased for the third year in a row. The percentage of HealthCare.gov enrollees with access to only one issuer is decreasing from 29% in 2018 to 4% in 2021 and more than three quarters of HealthCare.gov enrollees will have access to at least three issuers in 2021.
“Thanks to actions by the Trump Administration, Americans are enjoying more plan options as well as lower premiums for HealthCare.gov plans for the third consecutive year,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Building on our success in decreasing premiums and increasing choice, we’ll be working through the upcoming open enrollment period–the time for consumers to enroll in health insurance through HealthCare.gov—to ensure a smooth user experience.”
As we get ready for Open Enrollment, CMS has updated and improved the HealthCare.gov experience by incorporating integrated help and enhanced resources. These updates provide content that guides consumers and enables enrollees to easily access and understand information they may need to make informed choices about coverage. HealthCare.gov also added a new planning resource for consumers to estimate their yearly income. CMS will continue to enhance the application, enrollment, and educational support based on consumer feedback.
The number of licensed agents and brokers registered with the Exchange has increased this year. There are nearly 5,300 new agents and brokers signed up to help consumers during the 2021 Open Enrollment Period and nearly 37,000 who previously registered with the Exchange who are returning this year. Through the Enhanced Direct Enrollment (EDE) pathway, consumers have the option to apply for and enroll in an Exchange plan directly through an approved issuer or web-broker, without the need to be redirected to HealthCare.gov or to contact the Exchange Call Center—providing more avenues for consumers to apply for and enroll in Exchange coverage.
Starting November 1, consumers can log in to HealthCare.gov and CuidadodeSalud.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 to fill out an application and enroll in a 2021 Exchange health plan. The Federal Health Insurance Exchange 2021 Open Enrollment Period is November 1, 2020 to December 15, 2020, with coverage beginning on January 1, 2021.
To view the 2021 Fact Sheet for more information, visit: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/federal-health-insurance-exchange-2021-open-enrollment
To view the 2021 Plan Landscape Data, visit: https://www.healthcare.gov/health-and-dental-plan-datasets-for-researchers-and-issuers/
To view the 2021 Health Insurance Exchange Premium Landscape Issue Brief, visit: https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/DataResources/Downloads/2021QHPPremiumsChoiceReport.pdf
To see the 2021 Health Insurance Exchange Public Use Files, visit: https://www.cms.gov/CCIIO/Resources/Data-Resources/marketplace-puf
To see the Plan Year 2021 Quality Rating System Public Use Files, visit: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Quality-Initiatives-Patient-Assessment-Instruments/QualityInitiativesGenInfo/ACA-MQI/Quality-Rating-System/QRS-General-Data-Collection