The 2014-2015 open enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act went live nine days ago, and though it doesn’t seem to be dogged with the kinds of pervasive technical glitches that were so popular last year, in some ways, analysts say it may be more difficult for new people to enroll in the ACA this time.
For starters, the enrollment window is smaller. Last year, it ran October 1 to March 31: a whopping six months for folks to get on board. This year, the window is half of that, running from November 15, 2014 to February 15, 2015. And there’s no federal money for enrollment assistance like there was last year. Nothing to help out folks without computer access, for example. So, in Connecticut, at least, three foundations are coming together to finance 35 enrollment “assisters” who will provide outreach to vulnerable populations with the goal of getting folks enrolled.
The Connecticut Health Foundation, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, and the Foundation for Community Health are emphasizing the value of in-person assistance, with plans to hire assisters who were effective during the 2013 enrollment period. “We believe it’s not the only way, of course, that people get enrollment support,” says Elizabeth Krause, vice president of policy and communications at the Connecticut Health Foundation. “Especially for underserved populations, populations of color, populations with mental illness, in-person assistance is incredibly important and it’s something that we can’t let go of just yet.”
The Connecticut Health Foundation will disburse its assistance to up to 20 separate community organizations to do “shoe leather, community-based in-person assistance” throughout the state. The Hartford Foundation for Public Giving will fund outreach efforts in the Hartford area, while the Foundation for Community Health will fund an effort in the Northwest part of the state.
“It’s limited, but it will get another 35 people out there to help with this very important effort,” Krause said.
Things have sure been quiet on the ACA front over the last several months, but with the opening of another enrollment period, it seems that things may be picking back up. We’re looking at you, California Endowment.