The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced yesterday it's going to let people enroll directly in Affordable Care Act coverage for 2018 using third-party websites — to "make it as simple and easy as possible," CMS administrator Seema Verma said. Great news, right? Who would complain about that?
The catch: Some critics are worried about what happens to all of the sensitive information people have to provide to companies like web brokers and insurers. That can include income information, citizenship status, and Social Security numbers, according to Sarah Lueck of the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities — so they're worried that companies could use it for marketing purposes.
The tradeoff: Direct enrollment also means consumers wouldn't get to compare all of the available plans if they're just going straight to one insurer to sign up, according to Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation. But it definitely gives people more ways to sign up, Levitt said — and that could increase total enrollment.
Insurers are happy: The trade group America's Health Insurance Plans called the announcement "a positive step for consumers."