More Than 8.2 Million Enroll in Coverage for January 1 Through HealthCare.gov

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Burwell announced that more than 8.2 million individuals have signed up for or automatically re-enrolled in Marketplace coverage in the 38 states utilizing HealthCare.gov for coverage beginning January 1, 2016. This year's figure exceeds the 6.4 million people who had enrolled at this time last year. The Secretary also emphasized that 2.1 million (or 26%) of the 8.2 million enrollees are under aged 35, 1 million more than at this time last year. More than 3.7 million individuals visited HealthCare.gov on December 14 and December 15 alone and due to unprecedented demand, the Administration announced a two-day extension for enrolling in coverage beginning January 1. The Administration also announced last week that consumers enrolling in coverage through HealthCare.gov are now able to fully utilize previously piloted consumer decision support tools, including the out-of-pocket cost calculator and look-up features for providers and prescription drugs.

2016 Marketplace Plan Dataset Released

The 2016 HIX Compare dataset, released this week by Manatt Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, contains details for more than 22,000 Marketplace plans in all fifty states and the District of Columbia including plans' premiums, deductibles, out-of-pocket maximums, cost sharing requirements for primary care and specialty visits, prescription drugs, emergency room services and inpatient/outpatient visits. An updated 2015 dataset was released simultaneously. HIX Compare is a comprehensive, open access dataset that enables comparisons between gold, silver, and bronze offerings in both Federally-facilitated Marketplaces and State-based Marketplaces.

President Obama Signs Spending Bill that Delays Several ACA Funding Mechanisms

The $1.8 trillion spending bill signed by President Obama last week includes a two-year delay of the excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored insurance plans, known as the "Cadillac tax," and a moratorium on the collection of the annual health insurance provider fee and medical device tax. When the Cadillac tax becomes effective in 2020, it will be permissible to deduct it as a business expense, a change from the original design of the tax that reduces its impact. The health insurance provider fee, which has been in effect since 2013, will be lifted for 2016 and become effective again in 2018. The spending bill also eliminates the medical device tax for 2016 and 2017. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that these changes will reduce revenue by approximately $34 billion.