Today marks the beginning of open enrollment for 2020 health care coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplaces. So there’s no better time for hospitals and health systems to help spread the word about open enrollment and help their communities get covered.

As a country, we’ve made significant gains in health care coverage over the past five years … helping millions get access to medical treatment for an illness or injury. Unfortunately, we’re seeing some backsliding on these gains: In 2018, the uninsured rate rose for the first time since 2009; the number of people who enrolled in plans through the marketplaces fell for the third straight year; and — most concerning — nearly half a million more children were uninsured in 2018 than in 2017. 

The good news: The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has announced that the average price of premiums for benchmark plans will fall by 4% next year — the second consecutive drop in premiums. 

That’s another incentive for consumers to sign up, and we need to help spread the word to people who lack coverage.

That’s why the AHA is running digital and radio ads, creating online resources and engaging with our members to help make sure people know it’s time to sign up. 

And that’s why we’re partnering with others to amplify our message.

We are also working to make improvements to the Affordable Care Act. As a practical political matter, we’re better off working to improve the system we have — the ACA — rather than subjecting the nation to yet another polarizing debate on health care involving Medicare for All or repealing and replacing the ACA. We call this the pathway to Better Care for America … or BCA, if you will. 

A better way would be expanding Medicaid in non-expansion states … and providing a 100% federal match for the first three years. 

A better way would be making sure the exchanges continue to be effective by increasing subsidies to more lower-income people who want to purchase private coverage on the exchanges; expanding eligibility to individuals and families who earn too much for Medicaid or marketplace subsidies but can’t afford coverage; stabilizing the insurance exchanges by restoring funding for cost-sharing subsidies for low-income consumers; and implementing well-designed reinsurance mechanisms. We’ve seen these approaches work: Some states that have implemented reinsurance programs have seen declines in premiums of 20%. 

A better way would be providing adequate funding for efforts to help consumers enroll in health plans … and reversing the expansion of “skinny” plans that siphon off healthier consumers from the marketplaces without providing adequate protection and driving up the cost of coverage for those who remain.

Even as we work to improve the system, we still have to help people get covered. Open enrollment runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15. Visit www.aha.org/getcovered and www.HealthCare.gov for resources that will help you spread the word.

By working together to expand coverage, we will improve access to quality health care in our communities … and we will advance health in America. Thanks for all you do each day to help us reach this goal.
 

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