HHS Targeting Five States During Next Obamacare Open Enrollment Period

Date: September 24, 2015

Enrollment Starting Nov. 1 To Target 10.5 Uninsured Americans

As the third enrollment period for Obamacare nears, Health and Human Services officials are discussing some of their plans to expand enrollment for uninsured populations in five areas – Dallas, Houston, Chicago, Miami, and northern New Jersey. The New York Times reported that HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell during a speech at Howard University Hospital in Washington, DC said this enrollment period would target the 10.5 million Americans uninsured and eligible through the Obamacare marketplaces. Burwell said the five areas being targeted in the new enrollment period represent those where many uninsured reside. She also noted that nearly 40% of the uninsured make between $34,000 to $61,000 annually for a family of four, meaning they would “qualify for tax credits” to help with insurance costs, nearly 50% are between 18 and 34, and about 33% are minorities. The Wall Street Journal reports that Burwell said HHS is “working smarter to reach” enrollment goals. She continued, “We know Americans are depending on us and we’re doing everything we can to help them find the coverage they need.” However, officials have noted they’re lacking a “silver bullet” to help those strapped for cash be persuaded into purchasing insurance. They intend to highlight available subsidies as well as the tax penalties for being uninsured, which will begin at $695 annually in 2016, a steep rise from previous years.

What Happens Next

Enrollment runs from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31, 2016. The goal, Burwell said, is that at the end of 2015 “9.1 million individuals will have active coverage through the marketplace.” Burwell didn’t announce any stated goals for enrollment in 2016. The Congressional Budget Office in March projected enrollment of 11 million in 2015 and 21 million in 2016. Since then, Obama officials have said these forecasts incorrectly assumed that many more employers “would drop insurance coverage and send their workers into the new insurance exchanges” and that fewer consumers would choose to purchase “insurance on their own outside of the new exchanges,” the New York Times reported.

What This Means For Small Businesses

Obamacare is a growing burden for the small business community, as employers struggle with mounting health insurance costs. Another open enrollment season means additional questions about insurance might come up in the workplace, as small businesses and individuals alike wrestle with the confusing regulations of the health insurance market and the costly, inefficient bureaucracy that is Obamacare.

Additional Reading

The Washington Post, the AP, and Reuters were among the additional outlets covering the HHS’s enrollment goals.

Note: this article is intended to keep small business owners up on the latest news. It does not necessarily represent the policy stances of NFIB.

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