Where Do We Go From Here, Take Two

Just over 1 year ago I posted a long, rambling entry which boiled down to: A bunch of thank-yous to those who helped get me through Year One; a reminder that I never intended this project to continue past the 2014 Open Enrollment period; and a committment to keeping the site, blog, graph and spreadsheets cranking along through Year Two as well.

Now that we're past the official 2015 Open Enrollment period (#OE2), the "In Line by Midnight" overtime period (#ACAOvertime and the Tax Filing Season Special Enrollment Period (#ACATaxTime), it's time for me to finally let folks know what my plans are for the site for Year Three.

Obamacare in general, and the Open Enrollment Period specifically, are going to be in a very different place for the third go-around.

For one thing, by the time #OE3 launches on November 1st, the country will be in full-fledged Presidential Campaign season.

For another, most of the measures meant to help smooth the rollout of the exchanges will either be gone or expiring, such as the federal exchange startup funding (the state exchanges all have to be self-sustaining this year) as well as the "Three R's" on the insurance company side (Reinsurance, Risk Corridors and Risk Adjustment).

The expectations will also be higher. In 2014, the "magic" enrollment number via the CBO was 7 million (later 6 million) average enrollments per month for the full calendar year (the actual number ended up being more like 5.5 million). In 2015 it was 13 million, later reduced to 12 and then 11 million; if my projections for the rest of the year prove accurate, the actual number should end up being more like 9.7 million or so.

For 2016, the Congressional Budget Office is currently projecting that average monthly full calendar-year ACA exchange enrollments will reach a whopping 21 million.

That's a tall order; based on the first two years the trendline suggests that they're overshooting by around 30%, meaning around 15 million is more likely, but they're obviously counting on the increased "shared responsibility" tax penalty to inspire a lot of folks into action.

However, all of this may prove moot depending on the other Big Unknown: King v. Burwell.

I don't have to tell anyone here how big of an impact a ruling in favor of the King plaintiffs would end up having...and I'm sure I'd be going a bit insane trying to keep up with the ever-shifting developments.

All of this is a long way of saying that there's still a lot of fascinating twists and turns likely to happen in Year Three. The question is, will I continue to document it here at ACASignups.net?

The answer is: Yes.

As I said last year, barring any major life change of my own which prevents me from doing so (personal, career, medical crisis, etc.), I'm committing to keeping things going through the 3rd enrollment period, which runs from November 1, 2015 through January 31, 2016.

It's important to understand that this was not an easy decision to make. While OE2 didn't literally cause me to become sick the way the first year did (I came down with a nasty case of Shingles immediately after OE1 ended last April), it still ate up far more of my time than was healthy, and continues to do so during the off-season as I slug it out with idiocy like Monday's "Michigan State Senator / Detroit News" debacle.

As much as I appreciate all of the donations, both large and small, that people have been making (and believe me, I truly do appreciate them), the bottom line is that I needed to be assured of a consistent support source to get me through the 3rd season.

Thankfully, I can now proudly state that banner advertising from the esteemed Robert Wood Johnson Foundation will be prominently displayed on the site for at least the next 6 months.

To clarify, I'll still have some other ads on the site, and the Donate button will still be there...but thanks to this development, I'll at least be able to remove the pop-up donation request. More importantly, this brings peace of mind about my decision.

Beyond that, there may be some other housekeeping or design interface changes. I have to completely overhaul/update the F.A.Q. page, for example, along with many of the other "static" sections of the site. I may finally add some color to the dull gray design. Heck, I might even finally take the plunge and see about writing the book about the experience which I've been mulling over for nearly a year now.

Overall, however, aside from the RWJF ads being added and the pop-up being removed, ACASignups.net should continue to chug along for one more year.

And after that? Well, hopefully I'll be writing another rambling missive this time next year...but again, we'll have to see.

In the meantime, thank you to everyone who has helped turn this project into far more than I ever imagined it would become.