For Third Enrollment Period Marketplaces Expand Decision Support Tools To Assist Consumers
Author: Charlene A. Wong, Daniel E. Polsky, Arthur T. Jones, Janet Weiner, Robert J. Town, Tom Baker
The design of the Affordable Care Act’s online health insurance Marketplaces can improve how consumers make complex health plan choices. We examined the choice environment on the state-based Marketplaces and HealthCare.gov in the third open enrollment period. Compared to previous enrollment periods, we found greater adoption of some decision support tools, such as total cost estimators and integrated provider lookups. Total cost estimators differed in how they generated estimates: In some Marketplaces, consumers categorized their own utilization, while in others, consumers answered detailed questions and were assigned a utilization profile. The tools available before creating an account (in the window-shopping period) and afterward (in the real-shopping period) differed in several Marketplaces. For example, five Marketplaces provided total cost estimators to window shoppers, but only two provided them to real shoppers. Further research is needed on the impact of different choice environments and on which tools are most effective in helping consumers pick optimal plans.