New York: @NYStateofHealth becomes third #ACA exchange to throw hands in the air re. their #COVID19 SEP deadline

Me, June 16th, after several months of various state-based ACA exchanges bumping out their COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period deadlines by a month, then another month, then another month:

At a certain point I'm guessing at least one of the state exchanges will just say "screw it" and open 2020 enrollment up for the full year.

The point of a deadline is a) to prevent people from trying to game the system by deliberately waiting until they're sick/injured before enrolling in coverage (thus driving up premiums for everyone else) and b) to goad people into actually taking action (deadlines do have a clear positive impact on enrollment). With the COVID-19 pandemic having thrown the entire healthcare system into disarray, neither of those seem to be much of a factor this year.

Maryland Connect, August 7th:

Maryland Will Offer Nation’s Longest Special Enrollment Period Related to COVID-19 Emergency; More Than 54,000 Enrolled in Health Coverage from March 16 to July 15

ANNAPOLIS, MD—Gov. Larry Hogan was joined today by Insurance Commissioner Kathleen Birrane, insurance companies, and the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange to announce the reopening of the coronavirus emergency special enrollment period until Dec. 15. More than 54,000 Marylanders enrolled in health coverage during the special enrollment period from March 16 to July 15. With today’s announcement, Maryland will offer the longest special enrollment period in the nation related to the coronavirus emergency.

D.C. Heatlh Link, September 10th

DC Health Link Extends Opportunity for DC Residents and Employees of DC Small Businesses to Get Covered During COVID-19 Crisis

Washington, DC­­ –The DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority (DCHBX) Executive Board unanimously voted to adopt the recommendations from its Standing Advisory Board to extend the Special Enrollment Periods (SEP) for COVID-19 for District residents who need health insurance and for employees and dependents of employers already covered on DC Health Link to January 31, 2021, or longer if the District’s public health emergency is extended later than that date.

(Yes, that's right...DC is extending their 2020 Special Enrollment Period into 2021...even though the Open Enrollment Period overlaps with it and makes it superfluous beyond November 15th anyway...)

Well, today Governor Cuomo told the New York State of Health exchange "to hell with it" as well:

Governor Cuomo Announces Special Enrollment for Uninsured Extended Through the End of 2020

  • New Yorkers Can Apply for Coverage Through NY State of Health or Directly Through Insurers
  • Consumers Can Apply for Coverage Through NY State of Health, by Phone at 1-855-355-5777, Or Connect with a Free Enrollment Assistor

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Special Enrollment Period for uninsured New Yorkers will be extended through December 31, 2020, as the State continues to provide supportive services during the COVID-19 public health crisis. New Yorkers can apply for coverage through NY State of Health, New York State's health insurance marketplace, or directly through insurers.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over and it's more important than ever for New Yorkers to have access to high-quality, affordable health insurance," Governor Cuomo said. "New York has resources available to help those who need coverage during this difficult time, and anyone who doesn't currently have health insurance, regardless of the reason, should visit NY State of Health and enroll today."

New York State of Health Executive Director Donna Frescatore said, "With the ongoing public health emergency, the ability to enroll in coverage prior to next year remains important. The extension of the special enrollment period through the end of the year will overlap with the annual Open Enrollment Period, which will permit consumers to continue coverage into 2021 without a break in coverage. "  

Superintendent of Financial Services Linda A. Lacewell said, "Thanks to New Yorkers, we bent the COVID-19 curve. However, as the pandemic continues, it is especially important for New Yorkers to have access to high-quality, affordable health insurance.  Under Governor Cuomo's leadership, New York is establishing a special enrollment period through the end of the year, providing uninsured New Yorkers another opportunity to sign up for the health coverage they need."

NY State of Health, together with the State Department of Financial Services and New York State insurers, are taking this action in light of the COVID-19 public health emergency so that individuals do not avoid seeking testing or medical care due to a lack of health insurance coverage. Individuals who have lost employer coverage must apply within 60 days of losing that coverage and individuals who have lost income may be eligible for Medicaid, the Essential Plan, Child Health Plus, or subsidized Qualified Health Plans.

Individuals who enroll in Qualified Health Plans through NY State of Health or directly through insurers by October 15, 2020 will have a choice of coverage start date of either October 1, 2020 or November 1, 2020.  Those enrolling between October 16 and December 15, 2020 will have a choice of coverage start date of November 1 or December 1, 2020.  Those enrolling between December 16 and December 31, 2020 would get a January 1, 2021 coverage start date.  Importantly, consumers will have the option to continue their enrollment in the same plan in 2021 without a break in coverage.  Individuals who are eligible for other NY State of Health programs - Medicaid, Essential Plan and Child Health Plus - can enroll year-round.  Finally, as directed by Governor Cuomo, all New York insurers have waived cost sharing for COVID-19 testing.