The sun rose in the East this morning and health insurance exchanges opened for business, vacating predictions in some corners that this critical provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act would usher in The Apocalypse.
The six-month extended enrollment period runs until March 2014 and coverage begins on Jan. 1, 2014 for people who sign up by Dec. 15.
While the success of the exchanges has been the subject of widespread speculation, nobody really knows who or how many of the estimated 24 million eligible people will sign up for coverage.
"It's a good thing that they have six months to figure it out," says Paul Lambdin, director of Deloitte Consulting. "We have to remember this is an outreach to a large part of the population that may be somewhat hard to reach given the demographics and [they are] very unfamiliar with the product."
A Commonwealth Fund survey released this week found that 76% of U.S. adults are aware of the PPACA's individual mandate, while only about 40% are aware that the health insurance marketplaces open today and that financial help for premiums is available. Commonwealth Fund vice president Sara Collins said the survey found that once people were made aware of the marketplaces, 61% of those who are potentially eligible said they would be likely to shop for coverage.