BEYOND THE NUMBERS
The open enrollment period to sign up for individual health insurance in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces is over, but many of those enrolled in 2017 still have time to enroll for 2018. Consumers who were enrolled at the end of 2017 and couldn’t stay in their plans in 2018 due to plan cancellation are eligible for a special enrollment period lasting until March 1. Because there was significant turnover in insurer participation this year, with some major insurers ending or scaling back their participation in the ACA marketplaces, many consumers are in this position, meaning they can still sign up for coverage or switch plans.
Hundreds of thousands of consumers with cancelled plans can likely still enroll, Bloomberg estimates. In 120 counties, every insurance company that participated in the ACA marketplaces in 2017 exited them in 2018, and in about half of all U.S. counties at least one insurer that participated in 2017 left the market in 2018, according to Bloomberg. Some consumers in all counties in Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Ohio are likely eligible to enroll until March 1, as are consumers in at least some counties in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.
Through a special enrollment period, all consumers whose 2017 plans were cancelled as of January 1, 2018 can return to the marketplace and select a new plan. Some consumers have already selected a plan for 2018, but many consumers are unaware of their options. Most who took no action during open enrollment were automatically enrolled in other plans starting January 1, but those plans may not meet their health or budget needs. These consumers still have time to return to the marketplace and select a different plan for 2018.
Those who were affected by the hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands last fall and have moved to states that use HealthCare.gov are also eligible to enroll under a special enrollment period until the end of March. Other consumers may also be eligible for a special enrollment period due to life changes, such as those who lose health coverage, or families that experience a household change like marriage or a new baby.