36K Sign Up via Federal Exchange During Special Enrollment Period
As of March 29, about 36,000 U.S. residents had signed up for health insurance using the federal exchange during the special enrollment period, the Obama administration announced Wednesday, The Hill reports (Sullivan, The Hill, 4/1).
The administration in February announced a special enrollment period for individuals who can confirm they:
- Did not know about the individual mandate penalties until they prepared to file their taxes;
- Owe the federal government a penalty for not having coverage in 2014; and
- Do not currently have a health plan purchased through the federal exchange.
The special enrollment period began on March 15 and will end on April 30. It only applies to residents in states that used the federal exchange for enrollment. However, states that have established their own exchanges can choose to offer a similar enrollment period (California Healthline, 3/16).
According to The Hill, individuals who sign up during the special enrollment period could still be subject to last year's penalty of $95 or 1% of their household income, whichever is higher. However, the special enrollment period will allow them to sign up for 2015 coverage and avoid the 2015 penalty of $325 or 2% of household income.
Enrollment Below Expectations
The Obama administration did not release an official estimate for total special enrollment sign-ups, according to The Hill (The Hill, 4/1). However, according to the AP/Sacramento Bee, the initial number of sign-ups seems low considering that an estimated four million U.S. residents potentially are eligible to sign up during the special enrollment period (AP/Sacramento Bee, 4/1).
Affordable Care Act enrollment expert Charles Gaba had estimated that 220,000 individuals would select plans by March 29. However, Gaba said enrollment "may start to surge as April 15th approaches, just as the open enrollment numbers spiked as that deadline approached"
Meanwhile, HealthCare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan said, "We're making sure [exchange] consumers have the information they need to file their tax returns and that those who went without health coverage last year are aware of the requirement to have coverage or qualify for an exemption" (The Hill, 4/1).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.