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Shifting The Open Enrollment Period For ACA Marketplaces Could Increase Enrollment And Improve Plan Choices

Author: Katherine Swartz, John A. Graves
$15.00

The next open enrollment period for plans offered in the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) insurance Marketplaces is set to occur between November 15, 2014, and February 15, 2015—just when many lower-income people are financially stressed by demands of the holiday season. Recent research by experimental psychologists and behavioral economists strongly suggests that when people’s decision-making capacity (bandwidth) is stretched thin, either they cannot make decisions or they make poor choices. Using data from nearly a decade of US-based Internet search queries to measure population behavior, we found considerable seasonality in measures of financial stress and in when people seek out information on health insurance plans. A more opportune time for scheduling open enrollment for the ACA Marketplaces may be between February 15 and April 15—weeks when low-income people typically receive income tax refunds and Earned Income Tax Credit payments. Such lump-sum payments could be applied to pay individuals’ share of premiums.

The next open enrollment period for plans offered in the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) insurance Marketplaces is set to occur between November 15, 2014, and February 15, 2015—just when many lower-income people are financially stressed by demands of the holiday season. Recent research by experimental psychologists and behavioral economists strongly suggests that when people’s decision-making capacity (bandwidth) is stretched thin, either they cannot make decisions or they make poor choices. Using data from nearly a decade of US-based Internet search queries to measure population behavior, we found considerable seasonality in measures of financial stress and in when people seek out information on health insurance plans. A more opportune time for scheduling open enrollment for the ACA Marketplaces may be between February 15 and April 15—weeks when low-income people typically receive income tax refunds and Earned Income Tax Credit payments. Such lump-sum payments could be applied to pay individuals’ share of premiums.

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