The ACA’s second Open Enrollment Period is almost over. Here’s what you need to know.

Image used under a Creative Commons license
Image used under a Creative Commons license

The Affordable Care Act’s second Open Enrollment Period was largely a quiet affair. Without the headline-grabbing website glitches that plagued its predecessor, it has largely coasted under the radar.

In fact, open enrollment has been substantially more successful this time around. Last year’s open enrollment ran from November 15th through May 1st – over six months, with a last-minute two-week grace period. Nearly 70,000 Oklahomans enrolled. This year, consumers have had half that time – but in that time, nearly 110,000 Oklahomans have signed up for 2015 health plans on since November, according to the US Department of Health and Human. Over 4 in 10 are likely new consumers who didn’t choose a plan last year.

What’s the age breakdown?

Thus far, more than 1 in 4 enrollees (27 percent) are in the coveted 18 – 34 age bracket, placing Oklahoma uncharacteristically ahead of most of the rest of the country in so-called “young invincible” enrollment (in January, Oklahoma ranked 16th in 18-34 enrollment out of the 48 states for which age breakdowns are available, including Washington DC).

Who’s getting financial assistance in purchasing coverage?

Data via
Data via

The vast majority of Oklahomans receive financial assistance when purchasing coverage. To date, about 4 in 5 Oklahomans have qualified for some level of subsidy to make health coverage affordable, and on average, the tax credit drops the monthly premium from $302 to $95. These are the very subsidies that state Attorney General Scott Pruitt sued the federal government over. While the US Supreme Court declined to hear AG Pruitt’s case, they have taken on the nearly-identical Halbig v. Burwell. A decision is expected in early summer.

What else do we know?

Unfortunately, state-level breakdowns by gender and race/ethnicity aren’t yet available. However, last year, women out-enrolled men 56 percent to 44 percent in Oklahoma, and a similar pattern seems to be holding on a national level (55 percent to 45 percent, respectively). This may be because women have historically been underinsured prior to the Affordable Care Act, because a lower percentage of women were able to get health insurance through their jobs. 

The racial/ethnic breakdown of enrollees from the first enrollment period in Oklahoma is largely unknown: the question was optional, and thus the second largest racial/ethnic category is “unknown/other.”

However, even accounting for incomplete data, Oklahoma’s enrollment among Native Americans was the second-highest in the US. Native Americans are eligible for a variety of benefits and protections not available to most other Americans, from exemption from the personal responsibility payment to more zero-cost sharing plans.

When is the signup deadline?

You must sign up by February 15, 2015. If you do not sign up for health insurance by that date, barring certain qualifying circumstances, you will be unable to sign up for health insurance until November.

Morton Comprehensive Health Services is holding a Sign-Up Saturday event in Tulsa on Saturday, February 14th. Other Oklahoma events and signup locations can be found by calling 2-1-1.

You can also sign up on your own at In anticipation of a last-minute rush à la last year and the consumer calls that will accompany it, has increased its call-center workforce by 40 percent in hopes of reducing waiting times.

What happens if I don’t sign up?

There are two primary downsides to not enrolling in health insurance:

  • If you don’t have health insurance in 2015 and don’t qualify for an exemption, you’ll have to pay the individual shared responsibility payment to the IRS when you do your taxes in 2016. The amount you pay for being uninsured increases again in 2016 (after that, it’s tied to inflation).
  • However, the arguably more pressing downside to not getting health insurance is that without health insurance, accessing needed health care – whether for cancer, pneumonia or a car accident – can wipe out a family’s savings and bury them in debt. That’s far more of a crisis than any penalty.

Donna Orban (Community Service Council) and Grace Burke (Morton Comprehensive Health Services) contributed to this post.

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Carly Putnam joined OK Policy in 2013. As Policy Director, she supervises policy research and strategy. She previously worked as an OK Policy intern, and she was OK Policy's health care policy analyst through July 2020. She graduated from the University of Tulsa in 2013. As a student, she was a participant in the National Education for Women (N.E.W.) Leadership Institute and interned with Planned Parenthood. Carly is a graduate of the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits Nonprofit Management Certification; the Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council’s Partners in Policymaking; The Mine, a social entrepreneurship fellowship in Tulsa; and Leadership Tulsa Class 62. She currently serves on the boards of Restore Hope Ministries and The Arc of Oklahoma. In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and doing battle with her hundred year-old house.

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