One important thing we can do as we talk to reporters, other organizations, consumers looking for help or just friends and family in the coming days and weeks is to push back against the rush to judgment. An apt metaphor for what happens on October 1 is Opening Day, not Game 7 of the World Series.
On opening day there is a lot of excitement mixed with a bit of nervousness. It’s not clear that all the pieces have come together or that all the kinks have been worked out. But regardless of the final score, opening day does not dictate the course of the season in baseball, or in health care. Here are a few things to keep in mind as open enrollment kicks off.
- The success of the ACA does not depend on how many people sign up for coverage on day one or even week one. While we want to make every day count, open enrollment season is six months long.
- We have the benefit of a soft launch. Sign up begins today, but coverage doesn’t start until January 1. That means that we have time to identify and trouble shoot problems and test out and share successful strategies for outreach and enrollment.
- Fears of adverse selection are overblown. Young uninsured adults want coverage andpremiums are coming in lower than forecasted. Not only that, most of those shopping in the Marketplace will be eligible for premium tax credits which will keep coverage affordable even if initially enrollees are sicker than average.
- Some of the biggest benefits of the ACA are not linked to open enrollment and will not be immediately visible. Starting January 1, all Americans will benefit from the ACA, but they won’t know it. We will all have the economic security that comes from being able to keep affordable coverage even if we lose our job; insurers will no longer be able to charge us more or drop our coverage because we are sick.
These things will take time to seep into the public’s consciousness because, fortunately, most people don’t lose their jobs or get diagnosed with a chronic illness every day. But it’s the start of a whole new era in health care. Once people have experienced it themselves or seen how it will help their family or friends, they will never want to go back. Maybe that’s why opponents are so determined to stop the ACA in its tracks before it gets started.
If we build it, they will come. So let’s get out there and play ball