The Trump administration has announced it will not be launching an Affordable Care Act (ACA) special enrollment period amid the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent weeks, insurers and Democratic legislators have pushed for a sign-up period to provide care options for the millions of Americans losing employer-based health-care coverage.
White House officials recently confirmed they were considering a relaunch of the federal health-care enrollment site HealthCare.gov. Insurers offering ACA plans had expected the President to move forward with the special enrollment period, based on conversations with officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Initially, these insurers had opposed reopening the health-care marketplace, fearing high costs from COVID-19 treatments. However, the main insurance lobby, America’s Health Insurance Plans, endorsed the special enrollment period several weeks ago, urging lawmakers to expand subsidies to make coverage more affordable.
About one-third of U.S. states run their own insurance markets and have already opted to re-open enrollment considering the coronavirus epidemic. However, the Trump administration oversees enrollment for the remaining two-thirds.
For people who have lost coverage, there are still options available. Under the ACA, employer plans can be extended up to 18 months through COBRA, and Medicaid is available to low-income adults in states that have expanded the program. Health-care laws still allow special enrollment for people who have lost their employer insurance plans, which may provide a safety net to the record number of people filing for unemployment because of the pandemic.