Extended special enrollment period offers new chance to access health coverage
Virginians who lost their health insurance any time this year may have a new opportunity to enroll in health insurance coverage at HealthCare.gov.
Millions of people nationwide have lost their employer-based health insurance due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on many businesses. Normally, people who lose their insurance get a 60-day special enrollment period (SEP) to enroll in coverage on HealthCare.gov.
Now, instead of asking whether an applicant has lost coverage within the last 60 days, the HealthCare.gov application asks whether they have lost coverage since January 1, 2020. The emergency declaration by the Federal Emergency Management Agency enables consumers who missed their 60-day deadline to still enroll in coverage if they missed the deadline earlier this year.
As part of the process, applicants may need to provide proof of their loss of insurance coverage and the date that coverage ended.
The FEMA SEP has begun for the HealthCare.gov electronic application process. If someone was eligible to obtain coverage through an SEP at some point this year and failed to enroll, they may still qualify for coverage. Their coverage could begin as early as next month or even extend back to their initial date of eligibility.
Additionally, enrollment during the SEP does not preclude people from receiving discounts that may be offered on their health insurance at HealthCare.gov.
“Losing your job doesn’t have to mean losing your health insurance coverage,” said Virginia Insurance Commissioner Scott A. White. “Consumers impacted by COVID-19 now have another chance to enroll in quality, affordable coverage.”
The FEMA SEP is not limited to people who lost their health insurance coverage due to loss of employment. People who lost coverage any time this year – due to job loss or for other reasons – may now qualify for the FEMA SEP directly through the HealthCare.gov application process.
People who experienced life changes other than job loss (for example, having a baby or moving) may also qualify, even if they missed the normal SEP deadline, if their life was affected in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. Persons interested in obtaining coverage through the FEMA SEP should contact the HealthCare.gov call center at 800-318-2596 for more information.
In most cases, people who have not had any SEP-qualifying events since January 1, 2020, are not eligible for the FEMA SEP, but they will be able to sign up for health insurance for 2021 during the regular open enrollment period, which starts on November 1, 2020, and ends on December 15, 2020. Many people may also be eligible for Medicaid, which is open year-round, and those who need coverage may view their options at HealthCare.gov.
For more information, visit coverva.org/assistance or www.healthreformbeyondthebasics.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/FEMA-SEP-fact-sheet.pdf.