HIX Are a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Margaret Dick Tocknell, for HealthLeaders Media , October 2, 2013

Forget October 1, December 15 is the date to mark
That is the day when the enrollment period ends for policies that will go into effect on January 1. Many people will procrastinate or wait to see the initial uptake, so Pearson expects the first weeks of December to be busy ones for HIX.

Mondy agrees. Although Cigna is up and running with its HIX offerings in five states (Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Tennessee, and Texas) he expects potential enrollees to take some time to study the offerings and make their coverage decision. Cigna is providing online and telephone support 24/7 and has developed a five-minute video guide to help with the enrollment process.

The eventual importance of young invincibles
Many people have noted the need to attract so-called young invincibles—those hardy 20-somethings who rarely get sick—to HIX, in order to offset older and sicker enrollees. But Pearson says, "It is important to get healthy people in [HIX] during the first three years, but I don't know if it's that important for the first year."

In the short term, attracting young invincibles is important more in terms of PR than from a risk pool perspective. It is expected that young people will sit out the first year of HIX, which means the initial enrollment could be weighed toward a sicker population with more health needs. To protect health plans from potential losses in serving that population, the federal government has guaranteed risk corridors and reinsurance programs that will be in place for the first three years.

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