The Scoop: October 9 Edition

For people who buy their own health insurance, open enrollment for 2020 coverage starts next week in California, and in just over three weeks in the rest of the country. States are busy gearing up for open enrollment, and also looking ahead to various health reform changes.

Exchange plans available for window shopping in California, Idaho, Maryland, Nevada, and New York

Open enrollment in the individual health insurance market is right around the corner. Rates and plans for 2020 can now be previewed in CaliforniaIdahoMaryland, Nevada, and New York. And window shopping will be available in Minnesota’s exchange as of October 15.

Enrollment starts October 15 in California, and on November 1 in the rest of the country. In most states, it ends on December 15, although there are several states where the deadline has been extended.

Colorado has published a draft proposal for a new State Option health plan

Colorado enacted legislation this year directing state regulators to consider ways to create a public option health plan. Feedback was gathered throughout the summer via public meetings and comments, and regulators have published a draft proposal for how the new “State Option” health plan would work. Public comments are being accepted until October 25, and a final proposal will be submitted to lawmakers by November 15.

Maine is taking an active role in boosting health insurance enrollment

Under Governor Janet Mills, Maine is taking an active role in public education and outreach for the upcoming open enrollment period. The state has launched a new website, coverME.gov, as well as an advertising campaign to inform residents about health insurance options for individuals and small businesses, and about the state’s newly-expanded Medicaid program. This is in sharp contrast to the LePage administration (2011-2019), which took an obstructionist approach to ACA implementation in the state.

New Jersey has received approval for a state-run exchange using HealthCare.gov

New Jersey has always used the federally-run exchange, but the state is in the process of switching to a much more hands-on approach to its exchange. The federal government has granted approval for New Jersey to have a state-run exchange using HealthCare.gov’s enrollment platform as of November. And the state plans to have its own fully state-run exchange operational by next fall, in time for enrollment in 2021 coverage.

Arkansas, Kentucky, Oregon, and New Mexico also have state-run exchanges that use HealthCare.gov’s enrollment platform (Nevada did too, until its recent switch to a fully state-run exchange).

Molina joining the exchanges in Mississippi and South Carolina

For the last two years, Ambetter has been the only insurer offering plans in Mississippi’s exchange, but Molina will offer plans in the exchange in 19 counties for 2020. Molina is also joining the exchange in South Carolina, along with Bright Health.

Although there was an exodus of insurers leaving the exchanges for 2017 and 2018, that trend began to reverse itself in 2019, and continues to do so for 2020. In addition to Mississippi and South Carolina, insurers are joining or rejoining the exchanges in AlaskaColoradoFloridaGeorgiaKansas, Louisiana, MissouriNebraskaNevada, New Mexico, North CarolinaOklahomaPennsylvania, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Will new California law result in more workers with employer-sponsored health plans?

California recently enacted a law aimed at preventing businesses from misclassifying their employees as independent contractors in order to avoid labor law protections and expenses. The law takes effect in January, and while it could result in more California workers having access to employer-sponsored health insurance, it might also result in large businesses cutting employees’ hours to below 30 per week, or small businesses dropping their group health plans and sending employees to the individual market.


Louise Norris is an individual health insurance broker who has been writing about health insurance and health reform since 2006. She has written dozens of opinions and educational pieces about the Affordable Care Act for healthinsurance.org. Her state health exchange updates are regularly cited by media who cover health reform and by other health insurance experts.