Some State-Run Exchanges Plan To Extend Open Enrollment Period
Several states that are operating their own health insurance exchanges are planning to extend the open enrollment period beyond March 31 for some residents who have struggled to sign up because of technical issues, Modern Healthcare reports (Demko, Modern Healthcare, 3/19).
Discussions about extending the six-month enrollment period arose following the chaotic rollout of the federal health insurance exchange website and some state-run exchange websites. However, those conversations mostly had dwindled in recent months, despite lingering problems with some of the sites (California Healthline, 3/12).
In most cases, the extension would be applicable only to residents who have already started the applications but faced technical difficulties completing them (Modern Healthcare, 3/19).
Some of the states that are considering an extension to the enrollment period, or have already taken steps to do so, include:
- Kentucky, which will allow residents to apply for coverage by March 31 but select plans until April 15 (Howell, Washington Times, 3/19);
- Maryland, which on Tuesday adopted a plan allowing residents to complete enrollment after March 31, as long as they call into a hotline prior to that date to indicate that they experienced issues while trying to enroll;
- Massachusetts, which is seeking an extension through the end of September for plan that allowed residents who faced technical problems to either keep their current coverage or enroll in temporary plans until the end of June (Modern Healthcare, 3/19);
- Nevada, which is seeking a 60-day grace period for residents to complete their enrollment applications (Washington Times, 3/19);
- Oregon, which is seeking a federal waiver to extend its open enrollment period until the end of April;
- Vermont, which has the flexibility to allow additional time for enrollment to residents who have formally informed the state about their problems with its exchange website; and
- Washington, which is considering providing an enrollment extension on a case-by-case basis (Modern Healthcare, 3/19).
Although most of these states are moving forward with plans to extend the enrollment period, the plans have not been approved by the Obama administration, the Washington Times reports. Federal officials have repeatedly said that the open enrollment period will not be extended beyond March 31 (Washington Times, 3/19).
However, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius -- during a House committee hearing last week -- indicated that HHS could grant special enrollment periods, or SEPs, for consumers who are still unable to complete their enrollment applications through HealthCare.gov because of lingering technical problems (California Healthline, 3/19).
Matthew Lawrence, a Harvard Law School fellow, said he would not be surprised if the administration announces a "retroactive 'fix' for those who tried and failed" to enroll in coverage through the exchanges. He noted that officials likely would wait before granting any extension, because of possible concern "that an announcement before the deadline could give people a license to procrastinate" (Washington Times, 3/19).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.