Now in second year, a new infrastructure of consumer assistance in health insurance continues to develop. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provided for new publicly funded consumer assistance entities to help people on an ongoing basis as they apply for health coverage and subsidies and resolve questions and problems with their insurance once covered. Nearly all Marketplace Assistance Programs established for the first year returned this year to continue helping consumers. These assistance professionals have unique insights into how ACA implementation is progressing, what is changing and what challenges remain. How Assister Programs develop in their own right will also likely impact whether consumers can continue to get the help they need. This report is based on findings from the 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation survey of Health Insurance Marketplace Assister Programs and Brokers. The online survey was conducted from March 31 to May 3, 2015 as the second Open Enrollment period concluded. As was the case last year, Federal and state-operated Marketplaces provided contact information for directors of their Assister Programs, all of whom were invited to participate. Two years of data enable comparison of Assister Programs capacity and experiences from one year to next. This year's survey also included brokers for the first time. Brokers have traditionally helped consumers enroll in private health insurance coverage. In 2014, many brokers registered to sell coverage through the Marketplace, and nearly all of them returned this year, as well. Returning brokers also offered some observations about how this year compared to the first year, and how it compared to their experience selling non-group coverage prior to ACA.
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