ACA Sign-Ups Reach 11.4M During Second Open Enrollment Period
On Tuesday, President Obama announced that 11.4 million U.S. residents have signed up for or re-enrolled in private health coverage during the Affordable Care Act's second open enrollment period, which ended for most individuals on Sunday, the New York Times reports.
Obama administration officials said they expect the total number of sign-ups to grow as individuals finish coverage applications started over the weekend under a special open enrollment period (Pear, New York Times, 2/17). A glitch with HealthCare.gov caused the administration to extend a one-week special open enrollment period to those who tried to enroll in coverage through the site but failed because of the issue (Sanger-Katz, "The Upshot," New York Times, 2/17). Individuals qualifying for the extended open enrollment period will have until Feb. 22 to enroll in coverage through the federal exchange. The extended open enrollment period will also apply to individuals who faced long wait times when calling federal enrollment call centers (Villacorta, Politico, 2/16).
According to CQ Roll Call, more than one million U.S. residents signed up for coverage throughout the last nine days of the regular open enrollment period (Adams, CQ Roll Call, 2/17). HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said, "On the final day, we had more consumers sign up than we've eve[r] had, last year or this year" (New York Times, 2/17).
Overall, administration officials said they expect about 9.1 million individuals to complete the enrollment process and keep their coverage by paying their premiums through 2015 (Haberkorn, Politico, 2/17).
Obama in a video released by the White House said the figure "gives you some sense of how hungry people were out there for affordable, accessible health insurance" (New York Times, 2/17). He added, "The [ACA] is working. It's working a little better than we expected" (Millman, "Wonkblog," Washington Post, 2/17).
HHS Considers Another Special Open Enrollment Period
Meanwhile, HHS is considering whether to implement another special open enrollment period later this year, The Hill reports (Sullivan, The Hill, 2/17).
Several lawmakers are urging the Obama administration to align a special open enrollment period with the April 15 deadline for U.S. residents to file their taxes. An open enrollment period lining up with the federal tax filing deadline would allow individuals who become aware of penalties under the ACA's individual mandate to purchase coverage for 2015 and avoid the penalties next year (AP/Modern Healthcare, 2/16).
The special open enrollment period would apply to individuals who faced tax penalties for not having coverage in 2014 and who also did not enroll in coverage for 2015. Under the ACA's individual mandate, U.S. residents who did not have health coverage in 2014 must pay $95 or 1% of their incomes, whichever is higher, as they file their 2014 taxes (Pear, New York Times, 2/16).
On Friday, Burwell said the administration will announce within the next two weeks whether it will hold an additional special open enrollment period (Politico, 2/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.