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Open Enrollment Begins in Health Insurance Marketplaces

This week in Washington—open enrollment in health insurance marketplaces begins. You are tuning in to the health policy update from America’s Essential Hospitals for the Week of Sept. 30.

The new health insurance marketplaces created by the Affordable Care Act opened this week, bringing important changes for both consumers and hospitals.

For consumers, the beginning of open enrollment means consumers will be able to access more specific information about what the marketplaces offer. This information will include details about plan coverage and financial assistance. It also will include information about how much plans cost, including the cost of plan premiums. Much of this information will be available online on each state’s marketplace website. But if the federal government is running a marketplace, this information will be available on healthcare.gov.

For hospitals, the beginning of open enrollment means that hospitals will encounter uninsured individuals who may be eligible for health insurance coverage through the marketplaces. Essential hospitals will play an especially important role because they provide care to many uninsured people. As such, essential hospitals are able to identify people who need coverage and help get those people the information they need to complete enrollment applications.

Many hospitals will be participating in formal programs that help people sign up for insurance coverage. The certified application counselor program, for example, allows certain staff members at hospitals and other social service agencies to assist people with signing up for health insurance.

Together, these changes will increase the amount of information available to consumers about health insurance marketplaces and expand the availability of help for people as they shop for and apply for marketplace coverage. These changes will help ensure that people have health insurance when marketplace plan coverage kicks in January 1.

Thanks for listening to another edition of This Week in Washington. I’m Erica Addison; join us next week as we continue our discussion of health insurance marketplaces.

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