Insurance information clearinghouse HealthPocket suggests the enrollment period to buy coverage under the Affordable Care Act be shortened and moved away from the Medicare enrollment period.

According to the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based firm, which analyzed multiple internal and external sources of data, benefits of such a move include:

* The suggested reduction of the enrollment period to 54 days could also be combined with a change in start date to avoid the current overlap of the ACA and Medicare enrollment periods. A move of ACA enrollments through federal and state health insurance exchanges to coincide with tax season would lessen the call center congestion at insurance companies that results from ACA plan calls coming at the same time as Medicare calls.

* Moving ACA enrollment to tax season also would assist consumers in making the most informed health plan choice. The tax season is the period when consumers would presumably learn if any portion of last year’s subsidies must be repaid, if changes in income affect the level of health insurance subsidization, and the amount of the uninsured penalty for those without an exemption regarding minimum essential coverage. This information could help consumers make the wisest health plan choices for their personal circumstances.

The firm found that, in comparison to last year, consumer shopping interest was down more than 50 percent in the second half of the annual enrollment period as compared to the first half. The current front-loading of consumer interest in 2015 stands in contrast to last year when 73 percent of exchange enrollees selected health plans in the second half of the enrollment period.

Among the factors that influenced the front-loading of enrollment this year was the auto-enrollment of previous enrollees on Healthcare.gov. Additionally, government exchanges this year did not experience the level of technical problems they faced during the initial enrollment period. HealthPocket’s suggestions would not only benefit consumers but also reduce advertising expenditures by exchanges and insurance companies, says CEO Bruce Telkamp.

The detailed analysis is available here.

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