By Anne Filipic
November 16, 2014 at 8:43 pm ET
As the Enroll America office buzzes around during the first week of the second open enrollment period, I can’t help but think back to where we were just seven months ago when we finished the historic first enrollment period under the Affordable Care Act, with more than 8 million Americans enrolled in the Marketplace. The success of the first enrollment effort had exceeded all possible expectations. But we knew that a new set obstacles and challenges were ahead, and some pundits felt that the unprecedented coalition that came together to launch the Marketplaces might dissolve, making it impossible for year two to match the expectations set by the first.
Of course, the first enrollment period was always going to need and attract the most resources: the expectations and stakes were highest, all of the infrastructure needed to be created for the first time, and people worked incredibly hard to ensure a successful launch of one of the largest expansions of coverage in American history. And we always knew the second open enrollment period would present a new set of challenges, including a shorter time frame, less “low-hanging fruit,” and navigating the renewals process for the first time.
But as the curtain raises on the second enrollment period, thanks to the amazing hard work and dedication of our staff, volunteers, and partners, I’m glad to say that the enrollment coalition stands better positioned to face the challenges ahead than ever before. This enrollment period has not only sustained the momentum of the first, but we are actually going to be able to reach even more people than we did the first time around.
The fact that we are growing our program during a time when many thought it would decline is impressive. Take these three data points:
We always knew that while the first enrollment period was critical, the key to creating a stable, lasting system would be reaching consumers, maintaining stable financial support, and expanding partnerships in the second year. And thanks to a strong base of support, our smarter and more efficient campaign, new digital tools, and the vast coalition of partners engaged in this work, we are better positioned than ever to meet these challenges. Last year, all told, we reached more than 5 million consumers through field outreach, community organizations, our email program, and our digital campaign. Our staff and partners are passionate, trained, and ready to go, and we’re confident we’ll reach even more consumers this year with the information they need to enroll before the February 15 deadline.