The Department of Health and Human Services recently issued new guidance regarding the March 31st deadline for enrolling in health plans under the Affordable Care Act. This has caused some questions and misperceptions among consumers and the news media. Get Covered America is dedicated to providing accurate information to consumers seeking information about the change. Some of our responses to Frequently Asked Questions are below.
Q. Hasn’t the deadline for Marketplace enrollment been extended past March 31st?
A. No. The deadline for open enrollment is March 31st. After that date, anyone who has not attempted to get covered may be subject to a fine. While Medicaid and CHIP enrollment is year-round, individuals won’t be able to enroll in Marketplace coverage until later this year unless they experience certain life changes (e.g., loss of job-based coverage or birth of a child).
Q. Then what has changed?
A. HHS has made clear that for people who tried to sign up before March 31st but couldn’t complete their application due to circumstances beyond their control will be given a grace period to finish the process. This is similar to the way people who are waiting in line to vote when the polls close are still allowed to vote.
Q. How is it determined that someone is “in line” by March 31st?
A. If the consumer has made a good faith effort to enroll in coverage by March 31st but was unable to complete the process due to circumstances beyond their control, they are considered “in line” and will need to attest to that fact on their application.
Q. Can’t people just wait to start the process until after March 31st?
A. No. In order to be eligible for this grace period, the consumer needs to have made a good faith effort to enroll in coverage by March 31st.
Q. Can’t people still enroll directly with insurance companies after March 31st?
A. No. Open enrollment closes on March 31st, both on and off the Marketplace. Individuals cannot enroll in Marketplace coverage unless they experience certain life changes (e.g., loss of job-based coverage or birth of a child).
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