Health Insurers Brace For Confusion Over Deadline

Jeff Davis has a prediction for you:

“This is going to be the next shock wave.”

The President of Premera Alaska is referring to the March 31st deadline for signing up for health insurance. President Obama softened the deadline earlier this week, saying if you start signing up for insurance by the end of the month, you’ll be allowed to complete the process. But Davis is guessing many Americans assume after March, they’ll still be able to buy an individual health insurance policy off of Healthcare.gov.

Wrong.

“That’s a big, big change, and I suspect there are a number of people who aren’t aware of that at all and are just thinking, ‘oh I’ll just take care of this later.’ Well, later is going to be November.”

The next open enrollment period begins November 15th and runs through February 15th. Outside of those dates, only people with a “qualifying life event,” including getting married, or having a child, will be able to buy health insurance. Jason Gootee is Alaska’s regional manager at Moda Health, the only other insurer on the Alaska exchange. And like Davis, he is bracing for customer confusion on this issue:

“There’s going to be a lot of phone calls not just for us, but for other carriers as well saying, ‘what the heck do you mean I can’t enroll right now?’”

Gootee says the shift from ongoing enrollment to a set open enrollment period is part of what he likes to call “the new world order” of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

 This story is part of a reporting partnership between APRN, NPR and Kaiser Health News.

 

 

 

 

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Annie Feidt is the Editor and Producer of Alaska News Nightly, and is also a frequent contributor to the show. Her reporting has taken her searching for polar bears on the Chukchi Sea ice, out to remote checkpoints on the Iditarod Trail, and up on the Eklutna Glacier with scientists studying its retreat. Her stories have been heard nationally on NPR and Marketplace. Annie’s career in radio journalism began in 1998 at Minnesota Public Radio, where she produced the regional edition of All Things Considered. She moved to Anchorage in 2004 with her husband, intending to stay in the 49thstate just a few years. She has no plans to leave anytime soon. afeidt (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  |  907.550.8443 | About Annie