2021 Special Enrollment Period: What Health Insurance Advertisers Need to Know

Want to make the most of the special enrollment period? Focus on clear messaging with an emphasis on affordability.

A new special enrollment period will allow millions of Americans to purchase health insurance from the federal healthcare exchange at HealthCare.gov.

In late January, U.S. president Joe Biden signed a pair of executive orders that will open up a special enrollment period for the HealthCare.gov federal exchange, running from February 15 through May 15. In addition, at least eight states and the District of Columbia will be opening their state exchanges for a special enrollment period, although the dates for those periods vary.

For health insurance advertisers, the new enrollment period could be an opportunity to reach consumers with the wind at their backs. While the federal government had decreased its funding for exchange-related advertising heading into the 2020 open enrollment period earlier this winter, the Biden administration is planning to invest heavily in getting the word out to consumers that they have an additional three months to purchase a plan. Joel Ario, managing director at the consulting firm Manatt Health, told HealthPayerIntelligence that he expects 1-2 million new people to enroll in the marketplace during this period.

All of this is to say that health insurance advertisers have a big opportunity in front of them, and they’ll need to be ready to make the most of it. Here are three ways to make sure you’re capitalizing on the special enrollment period:

1. Put affordability front-and-center in your messaging

According to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, there are nearly five million uninsured people who are eligible for subsidies—and four million of them are eligible to get a Bronze-level plan for free. This suggests that there’s a large market of consumers who would clearly benefit from a reduced-price or free plan, if only they knew they qualified.

In order to capture these customers, advertisers should make affordability a big part of their messaging. Once consumers arrive at the carrier website or landing page, you’ll want to take special care to let them know exactly which kinds of plans and subsidies they’ll be eligible for. The easier it is for shoppers to understand the deals that are available to them, the easier it will be for them to purchase a policy.

2. Make sure consumers understand their new options

It’s easy to see how a special enrollment period could be confusing for consumers. Usually, there’s one open enrollment per year, where anyone who wants can purchase a policy on the exchange, and that period just ended recently.

Advertisers can combat this confusion by emphasizing that we’ve entered an additional, special period and by prominently featuring enrollment deadlines in their messaging. Keep in mind, the state exchanges that are reopening will likely have different dates for their special enrollment periods.

3. Give consumers flexibility in how they shop

Healthcare shoppers have become increasingly comfortable purchasing policies online, and it’s important to give them the option to do so if they want it. By offering consumers the ability to receive a quote or buy a plan right on your website, you can help meet their expectations while taking a pivotal step out of the path to purchase.

After all, the last thing you want is to attract a consumer who is ready to bind to your website, only to have them lose interest when they’re told they need to make a phone call to complete their purchase.

In general, you want to give consumers plenty of flexibility to choose the path to purchase that works best for them, as well as clear information about the options they have at their fingertips. If your site visitors can instant message a representative to get more information, or if they need to make a phone call to finish the transaction, it’s important to let them know with clear, prominent messaging.

Want more advice? Don’t hesitate to reach out.

The upcoming special enrollment gives health insurance carriers a golden opportunity to extend the busiest season of the year. By offering shoppers clear insight into their buying options, upcoming deadlines, and eligibility for subsidies, you’ll put yourself in the best possible position to maximize your return on ad spend during this key time.

And if you have any other questions about the best ways to tackle the special enrollment period, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your client success representative.

This site uses cookies to collect info (Learn More). The data is used to personalize and deliver ads and marketing to you (Learn More). We may share such info with 3rd parties who combine it with other data that you provided to them or when you use their services. This sharing may be a "sale" of your personal information under certain state laws (Learn More). To opt-out of sharing or to manage or learn more about what we collect, read Do Not Sell My Personal Information and our Privacy Policy.