The Department of Health and Human Services will up their direct outreach to uninsured young adults, who they hope will enroll in the Affordable Care Act exchanges and help stabilize the markets.
HHS on Tuesday announced steps the department will take during the upcoming open enrollment period to enhance their outreach to people between ages 18 and 35 who they hope will purchase insurance policies on the federal exchanges. The announcement is the latest in a string of expected steps the department is announcing this month to strengthen the marketplace.
The department hopes to increase the number of young and healthy adults enrolled on the exchanges to improve the risk pools, which would help lower costs for all marketplace consumers.
Officials say they’ll use data gleaned during the most recent open enrollment period to be smarter about reaching young adults. They’re more likely to be responsive to emails than older adults, they say. One step the agency will take is sending follow-up emails to young people that start to purchase policies online that remind them to complete all the steps, such as making their first premium payment.
“Last year we learned that young adults are twice as likely to enroll after receiving an email,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Burrell said on a call with reporters. “The right email with the right information at the right time can make an enormous difference in whether or not someone gets covered.”
The agency is also partnering with the Internal Revenue Service to identify families and individuals that either paid a fine for not having coverage last year or who were exempt from coverage.
The department is also planning to send paper mailing to those the IRS can help identify as without coverage from tax filings, based off a similar model used in Massachusetts. Of the group of people paying a fine for not having insurance or who were exempt from purchasing insurance, 45 percent are younger than 35. The department hopes to target people who know that having insurance is the law, even if they aren’t currently covered, said Christen Linke Young, principal deputy director for the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
Additionally, the department issued a guidance with the Department of Labor to clarify that insurers can take steps like sending specific information to help people turning 26 find coverage once they are no longer eligible to remain on their parents’ plans. That time period in someone’s life is when someone may let their coverage lapse, HHS says.
The department is also planning to partner with organizations like Lyft and the American Hospital Association to share information about enrollment. For example, Lyft will offer discount codes for users who take a ride to open enrollment events.
The fourth open enrollment period will begin in November.