Open enrolment, key to Obama’s healthcare campaign

  • Republicans have other issue on hand

  • Creating awareness is the biggest challenge

(Venkata Kondubhatla)

Washington (DC): The time has come again. The Obama government is bracing for the open enrollment marketplace for 2015 coverage, which is going to begin Nov. 15. The first open enrollment ended with approximately six million people enrolling in the program.

The marketplace website Healthcare.gov is better now, and the people are more aware of the Obama- Care program now than ever before. Naturally, the expectations are that more people are likely to enroll this season. Nevertheless, we have to wait until Feb. 15, when the enrollment ends, to find out the results.

The enrollments are vital for the success of the Obama Care aka Affordable Care Act. The more the enrollments, the more the premiums are going to come down, which is an indicator and drawing force for the program. For that to happen, it has to work on the issues that may alter its right course.

A number of factors could affect the success of the program, but can be precluded if handled properly, which was not the case a year ago – for one, for many of the republicans the program has become an issue rather than an effort to repeal the program itself, which was the goal during previous enrollment cycle. Many factors, such as the war against ISIS and mid-term elections have taken a front seat at least for right now for them. The GOP party has to sit with the Democrats and try to focus on filling the holes that the program contains, but that is too much to ask for at this stage.

Awareness among the people about the details of the program is another challenge the program champions have to meet. According to a study, some 49 percent of the population knows about the program as of Sept. 1, 2014. Republican’s negative campaign about the program may have added to that number. Whatever the reason may be the program implementers have to drum on the benefits of enrolling in the marketplace, especially for the sake of the Medicaid enrollment, which is a federal program, started in 1965 by President Lyndon Johnson.

As a part of the Affordable Care Act, the eligibility rules for the Medicaid have been relaxed, giving way for more people to enroll in the program. If all the states participate in the enhanced Medicaid, some 15 million new people can be covered under the plan. Again, the catch here is that the people have to be aware of their qualifying in the Medicaid. On the other hand, majority of the states that have not participated in the program, or defaulted to federal program are the republican states.

President Obama Signs IMPACT Act In The Oval OfficeAlso, making the marketplace plans less complex is another task that the program wonks have to work on. Many people who tried to compare the plans and premiums in the previous open enrollment marketplace repeatedly griped about the complexity involved in it. With all the steps involved, the process is byzantine – important area where people, especially the poor, have to be educated. Corollary to the increased population under Medicaid, doctors have been complaining about their hospitals crammed by new patients. Increase in the doctor’s pay is the claimed solution by the program administrators. One has to let the things unravel to find out how Medicaid is going to attract or retain doctors, especially the ones with expert and special skills.

With all these factors in play, the open enrollment program is of significance and is going to be important for Obama and his team. In the case of Republicans, it will either motivate many of them to be more aggressive with regard to negative campaigning or simply ignore it for time being. The crucial element here is how the open enrollment turns out in terms of numbers.

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