Shorter Obamacare enrollment set

obamacare business delay to 2015New shorter enrollment periods have been set for California’s Obamacare operation.

The 2015 open enrollment period begins Nov. 15 and runs through Feb. 15. That’s significantly shorter then the inaugural Affordable Care Act policy signup period in California, which ran Oct. 1, 2013, through March 31, 2014.

The revised Covered California enrollment periods bring the state into line with changes at the federal level.

For subsequent years, the open enrollment will run Oct. 15 through Dec. 7, although it’s quite possible those dates could change.

Open enrollments are used by most people buying health insurance, but signups usually are approved for those with “life events” such as marriage, divorce or loss of coverage due to employment changes.

In California, the changes were made by Senate Bill 20, from Obamacare legislation specialist state Sen. Ed Hernandez. The Assembly and Senate signed off on the measure in late May and early June. Gov. Jerry Brown signed SB 20 into law in mid-June.

The group Health Access California argued in favor of the legislation, which was not controversial. Health Access said that “given the challenges ahead, delaying and extending the next open enrollment period makes sense.”

Meanwhile, researchers say health care reformers would do well to move the open enrollment periods away from the holidays, when cash-strapped Americans are less likely to purchase insurance.

“Recent research by experimental psychologists and behavioral economists strongly suggests that when people’s decision-making capacity (bandwidth) is stretched thin, either they cannot make decisions or they make poor choices,” says the summary for the study “Shifting the Open Enrollment Period For ACA Marketplaces Could Increase Enrollment and Improve Plan Choices.”

“A more opportune time for scheduling open enrollment for the (Affordable Care Act) marketplaces may be between Feb. 15 and April 15 — weeks when low-income people typically receive income tax refunds and Earned Income Tax Credit payments.”

Track more California health care legislation.

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