2021 Marketplace Special Enrollment Period Report: February 15 – May 31, 2021
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reports that over 1.2 million Americans have signed up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov since February 15, the start of the 2021 Marketplace Special Enrollment Period (SEP) opportunity, through May 31, with 376,000 consumers signing up for health insurance in the month of May.
Overall, enrollment during the 2021 COVID SEP is up 3.5x vs. the same time period in 2019, which makes sense when you consider a) the COVID pandemic which has caused millions to lose their income and/or employer-based healthcare coverage; b) the "fully open" status of the COVID SEP; and c) the expanded subsidies put in place under the American Rescue Plan.
SEP enrollment is also up 2.4x over the same time period in 2020; COVID was in full force for most of that period last year, but HC.gov refused to launch a "wide open" SEP as most of the state-based exchanges did, nor were there any expanded subsidies in place, so 2019 is still the more appropriate year to compare against. (Besides, 2020 was a leap year, which tacked an extra day onto the total).
HHS Secretary Becerra Announces Nearly 940,000 Americans Have Signed Up for Health Coverage through HealthCare.gov During Special Enrollment Period
Since April 1, premiums have been reduced by over 40 percent for nearly 2 million current HealthCare.gov enrollees
Today, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra announced that nearly 940,000 Americans have signed up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov as a result of the Biden Administration’s Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The 2021 SEP, along with the additional financial assistance afforded by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), offers individuals and families an opportunity to take advantage of reduced premiums, increased savings, and quality, affordable health coverage through HealthCare.gov.
Today, Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra kicked off Asian Pacific Heritage Month by announcing that HHS will be partnering with select, national organizations the first week in May to support and enhance outreach and enrollment efforts for this population during the HealthCare.gov Special Enrollment Period (SEP). During the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Week of Action, which runs May 3-7, 2021, HHS and partnering organizations will provide education and enrollment assistance to AAPI consumers and use social media to encourage them to enroll in affordable, quality health coverage available through HealthCare.gov.
Note:A few weeks ago, I ran a rough back-of-the-envelope extrapolation of partial data from the first 2 weeks of the ongoing COVID Special Enrollment Period and concluded that IF enrollment via the 36 HealthCare.Gov states was representative nationally, and IF the pace of the last 2 weeks of February held perfectly steady, it would mean around 666,000 new enrollees via HC.gov and 832,000 nationally by the end of March. Those were two pretty big caveats, of course, and as you'll see below, the reality wasn't quite as eyebrow-raising, though it's still pretty impressive.
Roughly 29 million people currently living in the US lack health insurance. According to the new HHS estimates, about 6.8 million of them could now purchase an ACA plan with no monthly premium, and another 1.3 million could sign up for a health plan that costs less than $50 a month. Many of those people already qualified for free or low-cost coverage prior to the ARP, but based on the federal projections, the new law’s expansion of the ACA made an additional 2 million Americans eligible for free or cheap coverage.
It's important to note that the following guidelines only apply to residents of the 36 states hosted via HC.gov. The timing, policy and procedures for the new/expanded subsidies for residents of the 15 states which operate their own ACA exchanges may vary.
Back in late January, when it became clear that the Biden Administration was planning on announcing some sort of "no excuse needed" COVID Special Enrollment Period for the federal ACA exchange, I did a little back-of-the-envelope math to try and get an idea of how many additional people might enroll via HealthCare.Gov than you'd normally see via "standard" Special Enrollment Periods.
At the time, I concluded that for a 60-day SEP of this nature (that is, one completely open to all comers regardless of whether they had a Qualifying Life Experience (QLE)or not), you might be looking at perhaps an extra 400,000 people. selecting plans during that time period. This would be on top of the 4,200/day who enrolled thru HC.gov between the end of Open Enrollment and the end of May via SEPs over the past couple of years, which would be roughly 254,000 for a 60-day period.
2021 Special Enrollment Period for Marketplace Coverage Starts on HealthCare.gov Monday, February 15
SEP allows consumers to enroll in affordable health coverage during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency
Today, in accordance with the Executive Order signed by President Biden, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is announcing that the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for the Health Insurance Marketplace® will officially be available to consumers in the 36 states that use the HealthCare.gov platform on Monday, February 15, and will continue through Saturday, May 15. At least 13 States plus the District of Columbia, which operate their own Marketplace platforms, have decided to offer a similar opportunity.