A timely strategy for improving health insurance signups

Shifting the open enrollment period for health insurance signups could boost enrollments and may help people make better health plan choices, according to a new study.

The next open enrollment period for the health insurance marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is set for November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015. But in a study published online June 25, 2014 in Health Affairs, Katherine Swartz, professor of health policy and economics at Harvard School of Public Health, and co-author John Graves of Vanderbilt University, said the traditional end-of-year open enrollment period—which overlaps the holiday season—is when many people are financially stressed and more likely to make poor decisions.

They suggested that a better time for the open enrollment period would be February 15 through April 15—weeks when low-income people typically receive tax refunds and would therefore be less financially stressed and more able to pay health insurance premiums.

Read the Health Affairs article: Shifting The Open Enrollment Period for ACA Marketplaces Could Increase Enrollment And Improve Plan Choices

Listen to a podcast of Katherine Swartz discussing the Health Affairs study:  Shifting Open Enrollment Could Increase Participation

Read a Health Affairs blog about the study: Health Affairs Web First: Shifting Open Enrollment Could Increase Participation

Learn more

Health Reform Watch (HSPH and Reuters)

Implementing insurance exchanges: U.S. policy makers can learn from Europe (HSPH news)