Managers of more locally run Affordable Care Act (ACA) public exchange programs are adding emergency health insurance enrollment periods, to help people cope with the COVID-19 pneumonia outbreak.
More groups are also calling on managers of HealthCare.gov, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ multi-state exchange program system, to add COVID-19 special enrollment period (SEP) for the HealthCare.gov states.
U.S. health insurers usually restrict when people can buy individual major medical insurance without having a special reason to buying coverage, to keep younger, healthier people to wait until they get sick to pay for coverage.
The ordinary open enrollment period, or time when people can buy individual coverage without having a special reason to be buying coverage, runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15 in most of the country.
But many states have started SEPs, to give people who failed to get covered a chance to protect themselves against big COVID-19 health care bills.
California, Colorado, Minnesota and Vermont have now added the list states with COVID-19 SEPs. Consumers who apply for coverage using the SEPs and meet ACA premium tax credit subsidy requirements can get the federal subsidies.
California residents who apply using the Covered California SEP can also get the California tax credit subsidy.
Covered California already had a SEP in place, lasting until April 30, for residents who said they had just learned about a new state subsidy that California is using to help people who earn from 400% to 600% of the federal poverty level for health coverage.
The new California subsidy supplements a federal premium tax credit subsidy that serves only people with income from 100% to 400% of the federal poverty level. The California program helps cut health insurance premium bills for state residents who earn from 400% to 600% of the federal poverty level.
The California “just learned about the new subsidy SEP” runs until April 30.
Covered California announced today that it’s offering a new, COVID-19 SEP, open to “anyone uninsured and eligible to enroll in health care coverage” through June 30.
“All medically necessary screening and testing for COVID-19 are free of charge, and all health plans available through [California Medicaid] and Covered California offer telehealth options,” Covered California said today, in the SEP announcement.
“We want to get as many people covered as possible to ensure they have access to the health care they need,” Peter Lee, Covered California executive director, said in a statement. “Having more people insured is the right thing to do, and this action builds on our efforts to leave no one behind in California.”
Managers of Colorado’s exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, announced a COVID-19 SEP that will last until April 3, with the coverage sold starting April 1.
Connect for Health is encouraging would-be applicants to consider working with “certified enrollment experts,” such as insurance brokers, to get covered.
“Many local experts continue to provide virtual and/or phone appointments,” Connect for Health Colorado says in its SEP announcement.