The second open enrollment period for Affordable Care Act plans
on November 15, and runs through February 15, 2015. That's one of the first hurdles the administration has in making the second round of enrollments as successful as the first—it's three months shorter than the enrollment period for 2014. But there are more challenges this time around, including the fact that the people most in need of insurance flocked to the exchanges. In other words, the easiest group of people to get signed up, signed up. Getting the message out to the remaining eligible uninsured is going to be harder, and the administration is working on a response
The administration is not yet revealing many details of its plan for this second enrollment period, which begins Nov. 15. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell is less than four months into her new job, and she’s brought in a slew of new people to work on management and communications around the Affordable Care Act.
Yet clear themes in their strategy are emerging. The administration and Burwell frequently repeat the point that the law is "working"— meaning that millions of people are getting affordable health coverage. Over the next several months, they'll surely talk more about actual individuals who got coverage in the first year and hammer home that the law offers tax subsidies to many.
Only Politico would put scare quotes around working, since all available evidence
shows that yes, the law is working on a variety of levels. That includes providing affordable insurance to millions. Through focus groups conducted by the healthcare research firm PerryUndem, it's clear that many of the still-uninsured don't know that subsidies are available to make insurance more affordable. The focus groups also found that talking about the least popular part of the plan—the mandate to get coverage or face a tax penalty—is a good motivator to get signed up. So expect more emphasis this year on that tax penalty, coupled with the message that there's financial help.
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