The Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period begins today and runs until December 15th. This is the period for those seeking health insurance to sign up through Healthcare.gov. This action could impact the lives of the 10+ million Americans seeking health insurance through the ACA. But no major news network is covering this.
First – if you are looking to enroll or update your plan, visit Healthcare.gov.
Is open enrollment worth reporting on?
According to Health and Human Services, 11.2 million people enrolled in ACA coverage in 2017. What are the implications of this? 11.2 million people can go to a doctor, can face illness without facing bankruptcy, can live without the fear that a cold is just a cold. Families and workplaces benefit too.
The open enrollment period is a chance for those who are uninsured to opt in. It is also a time to peruse other health plans and make changes for the year ahead.
Yet, the open enrollment period has been shortened this year. Also, the budget to fund awareness has been slashed. Both actions are due to Donald Trump imposing cuts. So people needing healthcare have less time to act, and are less likely to know that now is the time to act.
This is important to those who will wish they had known about open enrollment after they’ve missed the opportunity to sign up. According to Kaiser Health, only 40% of current enrollees know that the open enrollment period begins today. That number drops to just 15% when asking whether uninsured people are aware.
But this lacks newsworthiness for those who have secure health insurance. For corporate run media that provide their employees and their families with health insurance, this may be beyond the purview of relevance.
Often, the reason those most in need are ignored by media is because they live in a world removed from interaction with those who work in media and politics. Do cable news executives know anybody who is uninsured?
So…what news is being covered today?
Headline news across the media spectrum is the horrific terror attack that took place in New York City yesterday. CNN, New York Times, Fox, Washington Post, MSNBC…pick your alphabet soup and the terror attack – or Trump’s rambling punditry – are headlines.
Okay, so open enrollment will run for six weeks. Doesn’t need to headline. But the problem (if you think it is a problem) is that it is barely covered at all.
Scroll down through each of those news pages and you’ll see stories on: Papa John’s CEO says NFL players are hurting sales (CNN), arrest warrant out for Rose McGowan (CNN), Iceland’s volcano on verge of eruption (Fox), meth found in child’s Halloween candy (ABC), exercise is important in weight loss (NYTimes), humans outlasted Neanderthals (Washington Post), and on. There are newsworthy stories too – tech hearings on Capitol Hill, GOP tax cut debates – but the point is that the ACA should probably be taken a little more seriously.
The coverage it has received has come from sources like CNN Money, Fortune, a NYTimes story from yesterday covering the confusion surrounding enrollment, a Washington Post blog post that discussed the politics of the ACA, and a USA Today story covering President Obama’s emergence to advocate for the opening enrollment period.
What can I do about it?
The advocates for open enrollment are disparate. There is a blog, ACA Signups, which has a ton of information on the law and enrollment. There are Indivisible branches promoting the message on Twitter. And of course, there is President Obama putting the word out.
Here is what you can do:
Enroll if you have not already. Visit Healthcare.gov to make a profile, select a plan, and be covered. This is a fairly quick process.
If you are enrolled, update your plan. Although Healthcare.gov says you “may be automatically enrolled in a 2018 plan,” they recommend you update your profile. You can also shop around for a new plan.
CNN Money pointed out that prices are fluctuating due to destabilization in the insurance market. But one of the results of this has been that some gold plans are cheaper than silver plans. So don’t assume your plan will stay the same.
Then use your platform, social media, office conversations, Thanksgiving dinner, to let others know. This is going to be another grassroots effort to get the word out. There’s a chance news networks will cover the last couple days and the sites will lag or crash. But it is less likely this will be a headline story as long as Donald Trump has access to Twitter and Congress urgently pushes a questionable tax plan.
Also, thanks to The Hill for putting out this info:
“People interested in finding enrollment help can visit localhelp.healthcare.gov. Enrollment assistance is also available via the phone at (800) 318-2596.”