HealthCare.gov enrollees need to hurry up to get coverage

Written by Staff Writer Lauren Burke, CNN Washington DC

With just over a month until HealthCare.gov’s opening for business, sign-ups for individual plans open for people in all 50 states have a few more months to get covered.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Marilyn Tavenner, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ outgoing administrator, said they are pushing to increase the number of enrollees signing up for coverage.

For its part, the administration announced a policy change in June that will allow people to enroll in a health plan under the Affordable Care Act during the first three months of the year, instead of the traditional six months.

But the month-long enrollment window for January 1 to March 31 is the last time when people can get coverage that kicks in Jan. 1, meaning that people need to sign up as soon as possible.

Sign-ups for commercial plans in the individual market opened on November 1 for people in 14 states and the District of Columbia. Since, data from the 14 states show that people signing up for coverage there are mostly younger and healthier than those in the 14 states and the District of Columbia that use the federal website, HealthCare.gov.

Those in the 14 states also experienced smaller rate increases than those in the 17 states using HealthCare.gov, according to Health and Human Services figures.

Some 9.8 million people were enrolled in commercial health insurance coverage in the individual market as of May, but there were nearly 21 million people enrolled in private health plans in the entire health insurance market as of the end of the year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Overall, about 18% of U.S. residents are uninsured.

“With the 2017 open enrollment period coming to a close today, it’s important for consumers to take advantage of special enrollment periods so they can get coverage that will take effect Jan. 1,” Tavenner said in a statement last month.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order in March that called for more flexibility on the part of states in how they make insurance available to people who are buying it for the first time.

The current special enrollment period for health plans is an annual three-month window that starts on the last Sunday in November and ends on the 15th in December, the start of open enrollment on the federal website.

The next open enrollment period will start on November 1 and run through December 15.

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