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HHS-CMS Share Marketplace Projections and Nine Open Enrollment Strategies

By Clive Riddle, October 21, 2016

Earlier this Week, HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell “announced that she expects 13.8 million individuals to sign up for coverage through the Marketplaces during the upcoming Open Enrollment.” In conjunction with her announcement, the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation released a report detailing these 2017 enrollment projections for 2017, telling us:

  • The projected enrollment of 13.8 million would represent an increase of 1.1 million from 12.7 million plan selections at the end of 2016’s Open Enrollment.
  • They estimate this will net down to monthly effectuated enrollment averaging 11.4 million people during 2017.
  • 10.7 million uninsured Americans are eligible for Marketplace coverage. Among them, 85% are potentially income eligible for financial assistance,  and 60% have incomes that would also qualify them for cost-sharing reductions in addition to tax credits
  • 40% of the eligible uninsured are 18-34 years old
  • 5.1 million eligible for the Marketplace currently purchase off-Marketplace coverage. Of this group, they estimates 2.5 million people could be eligible for financial assistance via Open Enrollment signups for Marketplace coverage

So how are they going to increase the open enrollment signups to 13.8 million? Last week, CMS shared their open enrollment marketing strategies, noting that “nearly half of uninsured adults are unaware of the financial assistance available to help pay for health insurance, even though about 85 percent of Marketplace-eligible uninsured Americans could qualify for financial help.” Their marketing plan includes:

  1. Increasing direct mail pieces from 800,000 last year to 10 million this year, targeted to “people who were recently uninsured, recently lost coverage, or sought coverage in the past through or a state Medicaid program,” including “people who started to sign up at last year, but didn’t complete the process”; “consumers who lost eligibility for Medicaid or CHIP coverage last year, or who applied for Medicaid or CHIP but had incomes too high to qualify.”
  2. The IRS “will conduct new outreach to uninsured people who paid the penalty or claimed an exemption, letting them know that tax credits are available for Marketplace coverage and providing information about their health coverage options.”
  3. E-Mail marketing will be expanded, as “’s email list has grown by over 30 percent” to 20 million+ people
  4. notes they “learned that simply reminding a consumer about their eligibility for financial assistance in an email increased enrollment rates by 17 percent compared to emails that did not include that information,” and that “emails informing returning consumers of increased costs in their current plan and encouraging them to review their options by shopping increased active renewal rates by 279 percent.”
  5. also learned merely mentioning a deadline in an email increased enrollment by 14 percent compared to emails that did not mention deadlines.
  6. will remind consumers about the a penalty for not having coverage, and cite a study in which “consumers who received an email with additional language referencing the penalty were 13 percent more likely to enroll,” and a test that “found that more prominently displaying penalty information with the deadline (for example, in the email subject line) produced a larger lift in enrollment, 97 percent,” and a “message that gave higher-income people information about the higher penalty levels likely to apply to them increased enrollment by 18 percent.”
  7. Outreach is being expanded to mobile and streaming platforms, and gaming platforms in order to reach younger audiences. cites a partnership with gaming platform Twitch, and notes that they will run ads and sponsor content on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook
  8. will emphasis optimized search efforts and cite that “CMS increased overall search conversion rates by 24 percent compared to the previous year.”
  9.  will “double the number of impressions a consumer sees (“Gross Rating Points”) on TV in the week leading up to December 15th compared to the same week last year.”

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