Health: Obamacare Open Enrollment Period Begins

The Story:

Under the “Obamacare” system created by the Affordable Care Act of 2010, November 1 marks the beginning of the annual “open enrollment” period. This means that health insurance companies in the various state or federal pools can sell their policies to individuals beginning this Sunday and continuing until the middle of December. Though there is no longer any tax-based enforcement of the insurance “mandate,” the pools and the enrollment period continue.

Significance:

For at least three good reasons one might expect this enrollment season will be very different from its precursors. First, the pandemic puts people in danger and (one might think) would goose the demand for market coverage, allowing the insurers to ask for higher premiums. Second, the Supreme Court is only a few days away from hearing arguments in a case that could lead to the abolition of the whole system. Third, there is a national election that coincides with the third day of the enrollment period.

In Pill Form:

More than 10 million Americans purchase their health insurance individually through these pools. Despite the considerations listed above, experts say insurance premiums are likely to hold steady this year compared to last, or even to drift downward. More insurers seem to be entering these pools, having decided after some hesitancy that “the water’s fine,” and the increased competition is likely to counter the upward price pressures.

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