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Many Marketplace Plan Dropouts Enroll in Other Coverage, Say Officials

By Melissa Attias, CQ Roll Call

January 13, 2016 -- The majority of people who leave the health law's insurance marketplaces in California and on a broader national level are picking up other coverage rather than going uninsured, according to officials on a conference call hosted by the organization Families USA, which supports the Affordable Care Act.

Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California, said California’s state-run exchange has surveyed a pool of people who left that marketplace over time and more than 85 percent left for other health coverage.

"We don't want to keep them. We shouldn’t keep them. We should help them transition to new employer-based coverage or to Medicare as they age out," Lee said on the call. "The fallacy that people are leaving to go bare and uninsured is not the case."
Mike Perry, partner at PerryUndem Research/Communication, said from a national perspective his group’s surveys have found that three-quarters of people who had coverage and dropped it have insurance. "The vast majority went on to other kinds of coverage," he said.
The third open enrollment period for the insurance exchanges set up under the health law began Nov. 1 and closes on Jan. 31.
Lee noted that Covered California often announces sign-up figures at the end of open enrollment, but about 15 percent of those people do not end paying their premiums because many enroll "just in case." He also said roughly one-third of those who are signed up at the beginning of the year will disenroll to get other coverage.
In addition, Lee noted that employer-based coverage faces similar challenges getting workers to enroll in offered coverage because of the cost. Continued education is critical so that people understand the value of insurance, he added.
"We are quite concerned that even a small number of people dropping coverage and going uninsured is because many people that have signed up did not previously have insurance—and the challenge of someone saying, 'Oh, I've gone six months or a year and I didn’t use my insurance, hence I didn't get a good deal,'" he said.


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