AgileHealthInsurance Survey | 04-21-2015

Consumers and the End of the 2015 Enrollment Period

Health Insurance Innovations (HII), the parent company of AgileHealthInsurance, conducted a nationwide poll to determine how aware the public is that the enrollment period for 2015 Affordable Care Act exchange plans is over. The survey asked 1,083 adults in the U.S. the question "When is the last day any consumer can buy health insurance on a government exchange that will provide coverage during 2015?" Respondents were given the option of choosing one answer from the following list:

  • February 15th
  • April 30th
  • October 15th
  • November 1st
  • I don't know

Only 18% correctly selected the answer "February 15th," the official end of the 2015 annual enrollment period. Fourteen percent answered, "April 30th," which is the end of a special enrollment period limited to those who were assessed an uninsured penalty for 2014.1 Three percent of respondents thought October 15th was the last day any consumer could buy health insurance on an exchange for coverage during 2015. However, October 15th is the first day of the annual enrollment period for Medicare drug plans. Slightly more people (5%) choose November 1st. As opposed to being the last day to buy 2015 health insurance, it is the first day consumers can buy health plans that will provide coverage starting January 2016.

The vast majority of survey respondents (60%) indicated that they did not know when the last day any consumer could buy government exchange health insurance coverage for 2015 was. This uncertainty regarding the Affordable Care Act annual enrollment period is intriguing given the amount of media attention surrounding the legislation and its implementation.

Unlike the pre-reform market for privately purchased health insurance, consumers in the Affordable Care Act era cannot buy health insurance throughout the year. Instead, consumers are limited to an annual enrollment period. Outside of that enrollment window is a 'lock-out period.' However, exceptions are made for those individuals who have specific life events (e.g. birth of a baby, loss of existing health insurance coverage, getting married) that qualify them for a special enrollment period.2

There are several possible reasons why many Americans are unclear regarding the end of the annual enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act despite the wide news coverage. One reason is that the beginning and end dates of the annual enrollment period are different for 2014, 2015, and 2016. To add to the confusion, on top of the annual enrollment period, the government has created additional enrollment periods for special conditions (exchange technical problems, people with a 2014 uninsured tax penalty).

METHODOLOGY

The survey's results are based on 1,083 responses to a nationwide online survey conducted from April 15, 2015 to April 17, 2015. Respondents were asked, "When is the last day any consumer can buy health insurance on a government exchange that will provide coverage during 2015?" Respondents had the option of selecting one of the following five answers: "February 15th," "April 30th," "October 15th," "November 1st," or "I don't know." The survey was displayed within a network of over 100 different news web sites and other content sites. Demographic inferencing and methodology to acquire survey respondents who approximate national statistics on age, gender, income, and region was performed by Google-administered technology. Race, education, and health insurance status were not examined. Margin of error across survey responses is estimated at +2.9/-3.0.

  1. Dan Mangan. "Few Sign Up During 'Special' Obamacare Enrollment." CNBC. (April 1, 2015). http://www.cnbc.com/id/102554037 Last accessed April 17, 2015.
  2. https://www.healthcare.gov/coverage-outside-open-enrollment/special-enrollment-period/ Last accessed April 17, 2015.

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT TAX. Term health insurance is health insurance outside of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"). It does not include all ten of the minimum essential benefits of Obamacare and it does not cover pre-existing conditions. To learn more about the tax, its exemptions, and how to calculate the affordability of term health with the tax, see here. To learn more about the differences between Term health insurance and Obamacare, see here.