This week in Washington—outlining federally run marketplaces. You are tuning in to the health policy update from America’s Essential Hospitals for the Week of Sept. 16.
Beginning on Oct. 1, every state will be required to have a functioning health insurance marketplace. All of these marketplaces will help consumers buy health insurance, although marketplaces will do this differently depending on whether they are run by the federal government, the states, or in a partnership between the two.
For example, marketplaces run by the federal government will be responsible for all outreach and education activities. This means that the federal government will raise awareness about the marketplaces among the general public and promote enrollment in health insurance plans sold through the marketplaces.
Currently, the federal government is doing this in a variety of ways. For one, the federal government is establishing navigator programs in each marketplace that will train and certify people who will help consumers understand what coverage and subsidies they can get. In addition, the federal government also established a certified application counselor program. Certified application counselors will be staff or volunteers at hospitals and other organizations that will do many of the same things that navigators do.
The federal government also launched a website — healthcare.gov — to provide information to consumers about when enrollment begins, what types of insurance plans are available, and how to apply for subsidies.
While the federal government’s outreach and education efforts are critical to helping people enroll in health insurance coverage, they may be limited. That’s because states have more knowledge than the federal government when it comes to what messages and organizations are effective at the local level.
As a result, states may miss an important opportunity to make information about outreach and enrollment accessible to their residents. This would be especially detrimental for the most vulnerable people, who often face language or other barriers to accessing information.
Thanks for listening to another edition of This Week in Washington. I’m Erin Richardson; join us later this week as we continue our discussion of health insurance marketplaces.