For the second year, Obamacare enrollment isn’t exactly over when it’s over. The regular open enrollment season ended at midnight Sunday but HHS on Monday announced a one-week “special enrollment” period ending Feb. 22 for people trying to enroll through HealthCare.gov who encountered technical glitches or faced long waits through the call center on the final weekend. Most states have outlined similar policies.
There’s also a growing chorus urging a separate special enrollment period around the April 15 tax filing deadline. That would be for people who do their 2014 taxes, discover they must pay a penalty for going without insurance without an exemption, – and face an even bigger fine for going uncovered in 2015. HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell told POLITICO the agency was considering giving them another chance to sign up, and several Democratic lawmakers have urged precisely that.
A wave of people getting fines without having a way of avoiding another year’s fines would generate another spurt of unfavorable publicity for the ACA.
The Washington Health Benefit Exchange announced Monday a special enrollment period for two months in that state. California and Minnesota are considering it.
HHS did not give an enrollment update Monday, but reported throughout the final weekend that website traffic and call center volume were heavy. Even before the final deadline neared, 10 million people had selected plans or been re-enrolled on the federal or state exchanges, although not all have paid yet. HHS hopes to have more than 9 million covered in the exchanges this year. That’s less than the Congressional Budget Office forecast.
Read more: POLITICO