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The Affordable Care Act's fifth open enrollment period begins in less than a week. And it's going to be a wild one.

Expand chart

Data: Avalere Health; Cartograms: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

  • As the graphic above indicates, based on data from Avalere Health, premiums are up substantially. Nationwide, premiums for so-called "benchmark" plans will be 38% higher, on average, than last year. Those are the plans the federal government uses to determine the size of your premium subsidy.
  • Those benchmark plans are supposed to fall roughly in the middle of the options available through the exchanges. But because of the way states and insurance companies dealt with the uncertainty around the ACA's cost-sharing subsidies, many people will now be able to get more comprehensive "gold" plans for a lower premium than the middle-of-the-road benchmark.
  • When you shop around on HealthCare.gov, it now organizes plans based on your total monthly premium, after accounting for subsidies. This is a change — and one that consumer advocates, including some Obama administration veterans, were happy to see.

Sea change: With a shorter open-enrollment window, fewer intermediate deadlines and barely any money for consumer outreach, this enrollment season will look a lot different from the four before it.

  • The Health and Human Services Department has not set a goal to get a certain number of people to sign up this year, administration officials told the Washington Examiner. (Most analysts expect enrollment to drop.)

The countdown: Six days.

Go deeper

Cyber war scales up with new Microsoft hack

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Last week's revelation of a new cyberattack on thousands of small businesses and organizations, on top of last year's SolarWinds hack, shows we've entered a new era of mass-scale cyber war.

Why it matters: In a world that's dependent on interlocking digital systems, there's no escaping today's cyber conflicts. We're all potential victims even if we're not participants.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
25 mins ago - Science

Spaceflight contests and our future in orbit

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wealthy private citizens are increasingly becoming the arbiters of who can go to space — and some of them want to bring the average person along for the ride.

Why it matters: Space is being opened up to people who wouldn't have had the prospect of flying there even five years ago, but these types of missions have far-reaching implications for who determines who gets to make use of space and for what.

1 hour ago - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: America looks for the exits after a year of COVID

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

A year after the coronavirus abruptly shut down much of the country, Americans are watching for a clear signal of when the pandemic will be over — and most won't be ready to ditch the masks and social distancing until they get it, according to the latest installment of the Axios/Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

The big picture: The poll found that more Americans are expecting the outbreak to be over sooner rather than later, as vaccinations ramp up throughout the country — but that very few are ready to end the precautions that have upended their lives.