Will Oct. 1 bring an influx of exchange consumers?

What will the beginning of open enrollment look like on Oct. 1--Will insurers see a flood of consumers enrolling in plans right away or will they see a slow but steady trickle instead? These are the questions healthcare experts, consumer advocates and insurance execs all are eagerly attempting to predict.

Overall, officials involved in the reform law's implementation and healthcare experts believe Oct. 1 will bring a fairly busy start to exchange enrollment that's followed by a drop in interest for weeks, Reuters reported.

"We're expecting there will be a big uptake on October 1 and again at the end of the year because people wait until the last minute," Michael Marchand, spokesman for Washington's exchange, told Reuters. "We'll probably also see a big wave in March--'last call' to buy insurance (for 2014) or be penalized."

Some state regulators think consumers will begin considering their options on Oct. 1 but won't actually purchase a policy until several months later. "October is really the first month of testing ... because it's the first month I really believe that all the elements of the federal data hub and state interfaces are going to be ready," Kevin Counihan, who is leading the Connecticut exchange, told Politico.

Investors expect only 4 million people will sign up for coverage through the online marketplaces, compared to the 7 million consumers the Congressional Budget Office previously predicted, the Associated Press reported.

But the bottom line is nobody knows what will happen. "It's not clear at this point what the take-up curve will look like," Rory O'Sullivan, vice president for research at Young Invincibles, a nonprofit working to enroll young adults, told Reuters.

To learn more:
- read the Reuters article
- see the Associated Press article
- check out the Politico article

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