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Where do states go next under new health care law?

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Steve Bryson
Post-election, number of uninsured Americans ticks up
Post-election, number of uninsured Americans ticks up

Now that the health insurance enrollment deadline has passed, many Americans may think that the impact of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may no longer be significant, but that's not the case. In many parts of the country,  the Act will still have far-reaching effects for the remainder of the year and beyond.

In all, there were 14 states, plus the District of Columbia, which opted to run their own versions of the health insurance exchanges, rather than go through the federal government's exchange. In many of these jurisdictions, there is still much to be done with regard to implementing the ACA, according to a report from USA Today. For instance, many may opt to keep open the "pop-up" offices they used to enroll consumers in the marketplaces during the open enrollment period that ended on March 31, so that when the next open enrollment period begins in just a few months from now in October, state residents will know exactly where to go. Likewise, there may be a continued effort to reach out to those who are eligible for Medicaid, because getting them enrolled in that coverage can be done at any time of the year.

Interestingly, the state-run health insurance exchanges seem to have had more success in getting eligible consumers signed up for coverage than those operated by the federal government, the report said. Once the final numbers come out from the latter's enrollment efforts over the next few weeks, there may be time to evaluate what did and didn't work when it came to getting people signed up.

Broadening the outreach
Over the next six months or so before the second open enrollment period, states and the federal government may attempt to go about the work of identifying those who may have "slipped through the cracks" this time around and "greasing the skids" that would allow them to sign up as easily and quickly as possible next time.

In the meantime, it's possible to obtain health insurance coverage before the next open enrollment. Federal rules allow carriers to issue coverage off-exchange at any time, rather than just during the federal open enrollment periods. Most carriers are choosing not to do so, but some are, which could help those that missed the open enrollment deadline to save considerably on their out-of-pocket health care costs over the course of the year. However, only those that enroll through the exchanges are eligible for federal premium subsidies.

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