The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be giving consumers more time to complete commercial coverage applications in the states where it runs the public exchange programs.
News was leaked to the Washington Post Tuesday, and HHS officials confirmed the leaks for New York Times reporters.
HHS and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the HHS agency that manages the HHS-run exchanges, are not officially changing the March 31 individual “qualified health plan” (QHP) enrollment period for everyone, but they will make a special enrollment period available to consumers who start the individual QHP application process by March 31 and fail to complete the process by that date.
Up until mid-April, a consumer can ask for the application time extension by checking a box on the HealthCare.gov HHS exchange enrollment website.
HHS will not be able to verify whether the consumers have really started the application process and will depend on consumers to say whether they have or not, according to the press reports.
Consumers who apply for extensions after mid-April will have to call a call center and provide evidence showing that they qualify for a special enrollment period.
HHS will make a formal announcement about the extension today, according to the press reports.
Independent confirmation from HHS was not immediately available, but HHS said in a request for a comment on the Washington Post story that “open enrollment ends March 31.”
“We are experiencing a surge in demand and are making sure that we will be ready to help consumers who may be in line by the deadline to complete enrollment—either online or over the phone,” HHS said in a statement.