Mellody is President of Ariel investments, a Chicago-based money management firm that serves individual investors and retirement plans through its no-load mutual funds and separate accounts. Additionally, she is a regular financial contributor and analyst for CBS News.
Tom: Good morning, Mellody!
Mellody: Good morning, Tom!
TOM: Today you have a reminder for us about the Affordable Care Act?
Mellody: I do! The Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period ending in just under two weeks – February 15 to be exact. As you know, this is the second open enrollment under the act, with enrollment having been open since mid-November. By the end of the open enrollment last year, over 15 million Americans who didn’t have health insurance before the law came into force were able to get insurance! Overall the uninsured rate dropped from 18% to under 14%.
That is a big improvement, but it means there are still more than 30 million Americans that are not covered! So today i want to talk about the enrollment process and remind people to sign up if they haven’t already, not only because your health is so important, but also because it is very much tied to your finances.
Tom: You said we have until February 15. What do we do to sign up?
Mellody: That’s correct, enrollment does concludes February 15, 2015. To sign up for insurance, go to healthcare.gov or locate your state’s health insurance marketplace. There are a number of sites where you can find your state’s marketplace if you live in a state that has set up its own exchange.
Once there, you enter basic information, compare coverage, find a plan you like, and then enroll. All of the sites have information and contacts for assistance in the event that you have questions about subsidies, fees, or exemptions. If you don’t sign up by February 15, you generally can’t buy health coverage through the marketplace until the next open enrollment period begins in November.
One thing to keep in mind: if you signed up for coverage for 2014, your coverage should have automatically reenrolled you through passive enrollment. However, please take the time to make sure, while the enrollment period is still open. Again, the open enrollment runs until February 15!
Tom: How many people have signed up thus far?
Mellody: So far, we know that 7.1 million (as of Jan 16, 2015) have enrolled in a plan on the federal marketplace healthcare.gov. That includes about 4.5 million auto-renews and renewals, plus new enrollments. The above is only in respect to federal marketplace enrollments, so it doesn’t count the estimated at 2.4 million people who had signed up in the 14 states that have their own marketplace.
Add to that the fact that the large employer mandate kicks in this year – meaning companies with 100 or more employees – have to provide coverage to 70% of their full time workers this year, and 95% next year or pay a fee. Taken together, we could see another big drop in the uninsured rate this year.