68K+ Enrolled in Federal Exchange During Special Enrollment Period
On Monday, CMS announced that more than 68,000 U.S. residents as of April 13 had enrolled in coverage through the federal exchange during the special enrollment period, CNBC reports (Mangan, CNBC, 4/20).
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 March 15 and will end April 30 (California Healthline, 4/2). It only applies to residents in the 36 states that use the federal exchange for enrollment (CNBC, 4/20).
Individuals who sign up during the special enrollment period still will owe last year's penalty of $95 or 1% of their household income, whichever is higher. However, the special enrollment period will allow them to avoid the 2015 penalty of $325 or 2% of household income.
The administration announced earlier this month that about 36,000 U.S. residents had enrolled in coverage using the federal exchange during the special enrollment period as of March 29.
Meanwhile, states that have established their own exchanges can choose to offer a similar enrollment period (California Healthline, 4/2). According to CNBC, every state with its own exchange has done so except Colorado, Idaho and Massachusetts (CNBC, 4/20). Covered California launched its own special open enrollment period in February, and it runs through April 30 (California Healthline, 4/2). A national enrollment tally of sign-ups during the special enrollment periods of state-run exchanges has yet to be released.
Enrollment Below Expectations
Federal officials did not provide an exact enrollment tally (CNBC, 4/20).
The administration did not indicate how many individuals it expected to enroll during the special enrollment period, according to The Hill. However, the current number is only a small percentage of as many as six million U.S. residents who the administration projected could be subject to penalties under the individual mandate (Ferris, The Hill, 4/20).
Not many tax filers are aware of the special enrollment period, according to tax experts.
HealthCare.gov CEO Kevin Counihan said federal officials "hope uninsured tax filers take the next few days to learn about the options and financial assistance that is available and to enroll in a plan that meets their needs, rather than taking the risk of choosing to get by without insurance for another year."
Meanwhile, Larry Levitt, senior vice president for special initiatives at the Kaiser Family Foundation said, "While not very many people have taken advantage of this tax-time enrollment opportunity, it's likely had the effect of turning down the heat on the potential controversy surrounding the individual mandate." He added, "There hasn't been much of a hullaballoo over the health law's requirement to have insurance this tax season, even though it's the most unpopular part of the law" (CNBC, 4/20).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.