AHIP's Ignagni to insurers: Start enrollment outreach early

America's Health Insurance Plans CEO Karen Ignagni expects that insurers will sign up 13 million new consumers during the next health insurance exchange enrollment period. Yet to achieve this, she notes insurers must start their enrollment outreach early and the federal government needs to iron out the remaining kinks in the HealthCare.gov system, reported Vox.

Ignagni explained that AHIP's member plans, including Aetna and Cigna, will be starting their enrollment activities "very early," especially for consumers who aren't yet entered into the exchange system. Beginning outreach sooner rather than later will also benefit insurers given the shorter enrollment period this year and the recent confusion over whether subsidies are legal under the Affordable Care Act.

"Without a doubt, there are still challenges that both sides [insurers and the Obama administration] are working through to make sure we get the work being done by hand now, all the life changing events, to have the ability to do that electronically," Ignagni told Vox.

One of the biggest obstacles still facing insurers is the fixes needed to the back end of HealthCare.gov. For example, when consumers undergo life changes, including having a baby or getting married or divorced, the information is still being entered by hand. Ignagni wants to see that functionality built up before the next open enrollment.

Another issue federal and AHIP officials are working on is reconciling data to ensure exchanges and health plans have the same information about which consumers are enrolled and which aren't.

"It's going to be very important for the functionality to work, and make sure that shoppers have the support systems they expect," Ignagni said.

Without any support systems, it's going to be extremely difficult to convince consumers, particularly the ones who opted not to participate in last year's open enrollment, to buy exchange plans. That's one of the primary driving factors behind AHIP's proposed new plan level that can be sold on the exchanges. The so-called copper plans would feature lower premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs to help motivate more uninsured individuals to sign up for health coverage, FierceHealthPayer previously reported. Ignagni said the copper plans would "give [consumers] a path in" obtaining health insurance.

To learn more:
- read the Vox article