Americans who lost their jobs and employer-based insurance during the pandemic are going to get another chance to sign up for health coverage.
President Biden just signed an executive order directing the Department of Health and Human Services to provide a three-month enrollment period beginning February 15th.
This new open enrollment period relates to HealthCare.gov. The federally run insurance marketplace.
For states using Healthcare.gov, the official window to enroll in coverage for 2021 closed on December 15th.
The new enrollment period Biden is creating combined with a greater effort to reach those currently uninsured could potentially increase enrollment by 9 million people, according to an analysis by KFF.
Democrats, the health insurance industry and healthcare advocates repeatedly asked the Trump administration over the past several months to reopen HealthCare.gov enrollment.
The Trump administration argued that people who lost their coverage during the pandemic could sign up for Obamacare plans using individual special enrollment periods.
While this was true, the process is more complicated than open enrollment because it requires applicants to prove their eligibility. It’s also not available to people who have been uninsured for an extended period of time.
The Trump administration resisted calls for a special open enrollment period for people who became uninsured during the pandemic and instead repeatedly sought to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
State run marketplaces
15 states including the District of Columbia maintain their own online exchanges. Most of these marketplaces extended their open enrollment periods as a result of the pandemic.
Those states saw a surge of new applicants — particularly among people in their 20s — suggesting that Americans who once chose to go without coverage are reconsidering given the risk of coronavirus infection.
In light of President Biden’s new initiative to get more Americans insured and the severity of the continuing pandemic, it is expected a number of states will also adjust their open enrollment periods to try to reach more people.