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How to Keep People in Health Plans

Kelly Blair

Kelly Blair

[Note: Be sure to read some of the 416 comments on this opinion piece.]

New York Times, Opinion Page, October 13, 2015
by THE EDITORIAL BOARD

There was a sharp drop earlier this year in the number of people enrolled in health insurance plans purchased through federal and state marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act. That poses a big challenge for insurers, health care providers and enrollment counselors when a new open enrollment period starts on Nov. 1.

Health care reform has made considerable progress in reducing the number of uninsured Americans over the past several years, but there is still quite a distance to go before achieving near-universal coverage. Some 10.5 million people are currently uninsured even though the law requires most of them to obtain coverage. Beyond that, a lot of people who bought insurance policies earlier this year were forced to drop out, often because they couldn’t afford the premiums.

As Abby Goodnough reported in The Times on Monday, 11.7 million people had selected private plans during the open enrollment period that ended on Feb. 15. By the end of June, only 9.9 million people were enrolled, according to the Obama administration.

There are several reasons people drop out, but cost was clearly the big factor for those who lost their jobs or whose incomes fell. Some people lost their federal subsidies because the federal government could not verify their incomes or their citizenship or immigration status.

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