Georgia's health insurers will have to pay commissions to agents and brokers for almost all policies sold. Health plans across the nation have slashed these commissions, and the number of registered HealthCare.gov brokers has plummeted since 2015.
HealthCare.gov sign-ups have a lot of ground to make up before open enrollment ends on Dec. 15.
Prior to the start of open enrollment, many experts feared sign-ups would drop this year because of deep cuts in federal funding for Obamacare marketing and outreach. But so far, enrollment continues to outpace last year.
A day ahead of the Sept. 27 deadline for insurers to finalize 2018 marketplace rates, health plans are no closer to getting answers about continuing the crucial cost-sharing reduction subsidies or enforcing the individual mandate.
The federal government's move to take HealthCare.gov offline for 12 hours nearly every Sunday during open enrollment reduces the chances consumers have to sign up for coverage in an already challenging enrollment period.
The Trump administration took steps last week that could make it easier for consumers to get coverage under the Affordable Care Act, albeit at the potential demise of federal insurance exchanges.
“It's the Wild West out here, and companies are doing what they can to survive,” said Ronnell Nolan, CEO of Health Agents for America, which represents independent insurance brokers.
Health insurers are pleased the Trump administration wants to give them seven extra weeks to file rates for individual-market plans in 2018. But that move does little to settle their uncertainty about whether to offer plans at all.
The final open enrollment period for coverage on Healthcare.gov under the Obama administration ended Jan. 31 with 9.2 million people selecting plans on the site.
The rate of enrollment in the state and federal marketplaces continues to outpace the previous year despite ongoing uncertainty over the future of the health reform law. As of Dec. 24, 11.5 million people were signed up for coverage.
HHS has seen a major increase in the number of people who have selected plans on HealthCare.gov compared with this time last year. Nearly 6.4 million have selected plans that will begin Jan. 1.
Policy experts say the projected double-digit hikes are unlikely to affect the majority of people who enroll in health plans through the federal exchange. At the same time, benchmark premiums in some states, including Arkansas, Indiana and Ohio, will increase only slightly or even decrease in 2017.