The Affordable Care Act required that consumers have access to in-person or on-call assistance to understand their choices and “navigate” the complexities of the new health insurance marketplaces. One consequence of each state’s decision about whether to run its own marketplace is an extreme variation in the time-limited funding available for consumer assistance programs.
This brief analyzes variation between states in terms of types of assistance available and the level of funding for each state in the first year of marketplace operations. Research on consumer assistance efforts could provide insights into the most effective use of resources as states prepare for subsequent open enrollment periods. These insights will also be critical as large pools of resources for consumer assistance run out and are replaced next year by smaller amounts generated by marketplace revenues.