CMS Confirms: NO Deadline Extension after 1/31 this year (w/minor caveat)

There was a quick "Final Countdown" conference call with the CMS team this afternoon, pushing the upcoming final Open Enrollment deadline this Sunday at midnight.

There wasn't a ton of notable news; most of it was reiterating the numbers put out yesterday, giving a shout-out to certain states and specific cities which are substantially outperforming last year so far (14 states are 20% ahead of where they were last year at this time, and several southern cities were recognized specifically:

  • States which are 20% ahead of last year: OR, NV, IA, UT, SD, LA, NE, ND, TN, OK, AL, ME, WI, NJ
  • Southern cities outerperforming last year: Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Nashvillle, New Orleans, Atlanta and Miami

They also noted that yes, traffic is finally starting to ramp up in the final days: A 50% increase in HealthCare.Gov traffic, twice as many phone calls came in by this morning as all of yesterday, etc.

Regarding outreach/marketing efforts, they noted that they've massively increased text messages, email reminders, TV ads and so forth, along with announcing some sort of new partnership with Lyft...and lord knows they're gonna need these things, because according to this morning's Kaiser Family Foundation survey, 85% of the uninsured population still has no idea about the 1/31 deadline. One important caveat, however: As Lori Lodes of CMS noted, the KFF survey presumably includes the entire uninsured population. Since only 49% of the uninsured are even eligible for private ACA exchange coverage (the other half are either eligible for Medicaid/CHIP, caught in the Medicaid Gap or undocumented immigrants), that 15% figure is likely somewhat higher among those who are actually eligible to enroll.

They also stated that while they don't have the total number of "pre-purged" QHP selections on hand (they've confirmed 300,000 but the total is higher), they did promise to include a "full" breakdown after open enrollment ends. My guess is it'll be something like 400K - 500K in all.

Otehr than that, there was only one other major news item in the call: They confirmed that HealthCare.Gov will NOT, repeat NOT be extending the deadline beyond 1/31/16. They will give those who were "In Line by Midnight" on Sunday time to complete the process, but other than that, Sunday night is it aside from the normal Special Enrollment Periods for qualifying life events.

This is right in line with what I was expecting, and makes even more sense given that the "final surge" isn't likely to be as dramatic as it was back in December anyway.

As for the state-based exchanges, it's possible that a few of them will offer an extension, but my guess is the odds of that happening are pretty unlikely unless any of them have a major technical problem which brings down/screws up the system over the weekend.

UPDATE: Here's a CMS blog post which details the city/state numbers above with some bar graphs.