A special enrollment period will begin March 15 and end April 30 to help consumers avoid tax penalties for not obtaining health insurance coverage this year, Andrew Slavitt, principal deputy administrator at CMS, said during a news briefing Friday.
To qualify for the exemption, people will need to self-attest that they had to pay a penalty for not having coverage in 2014, they cannot be currently enrolled in a plan on HealthCare.gov, and claim that they only found out they were going to have to pay a tax penalty when they filed their income tax forms. CMS had no estimates on how many people fall into this group.
Up to 6 million Americans are expected to pay a penalty for not having coverage in 2014, according to recent Obama administration projections. Most of the uninsured won’t actually face the penalty because they’ll qualify for an exemption, either related to their inability to afford coverage or some other hardship.
For 2015, the penalty is $325 per uninsured person or 2% of household income over the filing threshold. That’s up from 2014, when it was $95 per uninsured person or 1% of household income over the filing threshold.
HHS has already announced a special enrollment period ending Feb. 22 for people who had an in-process application on Feb. 15. This group includes the just under 150,000 people who were on the phone with a call center and were unable to complete the application process before the deadline. That number does not include those who had technical issues and were unable to complete their enrollment. HHS has no estimates on the number of folks in this second group. HHS will be releasing how many additional people gained coverage from this special enrollment period by Feb. 25, Slavitt said.
As of midnight Feb. 15, 11.4 million consumers selected or were automatically re-enrolled into plans. That includes 8.6 million with plans on HealthCare.gov and about 2.8 million people who obtained coverage from a state-based marketplace, HHS announced.
HHS’ goal for the second re-enrollment period is to have an effectuated enrollment, people who have selected plans and paid for them, of 9.1 million. It may not be until the next open-enrollment period begins next fall that the agency will know if it’s reached its goal.