Behavioral strategies to increase health insurance enrollment

Health insurance form with stethoscopeNovember 1st marks the third year of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act’s federal healthcare exchange. The Affordable Care Act was created to make quality healthcare more affordable, thus more accessible to the general public. Its primary goal is to increase health insurance coverage among eligible individuals. Enrollment in select health insurance plans (via an online health plan marketplace) is made more affordable with the use of income-based tax credits that can be applied toward monthly health plan premiums. Eligible individuals are also encouraged to obtain some form of health coverage (e.g., through the marketplace, employer, or privately), as those who opt out may receive a tax penalty.

The use of income-based tax credits and tax penalties have been a part of the program since its launch in 2013. However new strategies have been arranged to increase enrollment for 2016. For example, the site is projected to be faster and easier to use. It will include a calculator tool to help consumers assess total out-of-pocket expenses across various plans. Eligibility and tax credit information will be immediately accessible, so consumers can use the information to further assess the cost of various health plans. Information about covered doctors and prescriptions are also set to be included to help consumers choose the health plan that best meets their needs.

This federal healthcare exchange is packed full of behavioral strategies to increase consumer enrollment in the health insurance plans provided by its system. Let’s pick out some of them for discussion!

  • The plan is designed to reduce the monthly cost of the consumer’s health insurance. This sounds like an antecedent manipulation in response effort. It makes it easier to pay for/access the health insurance.
  • There is a tax penalty for opting out/not signing up. This is an attempt to negatively punish opting out (by taking away some of your money).
  • The site will be faster and easier to use. Here’s another response effort manipulation. Consumers are more likely to enroll if the process is as easy as possible.
  • The inclusion of an out-of-pocket expense calculator, immediate access to tax credit information, and information about covered doctors and medications are also antecedent manipulation strategies that will help consumers select the most appropriate health insurance plans. The inclusion of these features makes it more likely that consumers will contact the relevant reinforcers (i.e., health care plans that meets their needs) for enrolling in health plans. When health care enrollment is reinforced, the consumer is more likely to maintain coverage throughout the year and re-enroll next year.

The Affordable Care Act and the federal healthcare exchange enrollment system have incorporated both antecedent and consequence-based behavioral strategies aimed at increasing the number of individuals with health insurance. The use of these strategies represents how behavioral technologies might improve consumer access to quality healthcare via their application in the administration of healthcare policies.

Have you noticed the implementation of behavioral strategies into other policies that directly affect you? Tell us about it and keep an eye out for more discussions from BAM Network.

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