States begin extending the enrollment period for their insurance exchanges
The open enrollment period for health insurance exchanges in the United States has come to an end, but that may soon change for many states in the country. In Washington, the enrollment period has been extended until the middle of April, which will allow more people to sign up for health insurance coverage through the state’s exchange. In other states, lawmakers are considering extension to the enrollment period, as well.
Federal penalties encourage states to extend their enrollment periods in an effort to help consumers avoid being fined
Several states have already opted to extend the enrollment period for a matter of days, following glitches with their insurance exchanges and HealthCare.gov. Longer extensions are currently being considered for these exchanges. One of the reasons many states have begun to extend their enrollment periods has to do with the fact that uninsured people will be struck with federal fines this year. In order to help people avoid this, exchanges have been made more available so they can find the health insurance coverage that they need.
Washington extends its enrollment period to ensure that the uninsured are not penalized
Washington officials noted that their reason for extending the enrollment period had to do with people facing tax penalties for being uninsured. Many Washington residents were unaware that they would be fined for not having health insurance coverage and came to the state’s exchange too late, finding the open enrollment period over. In an effort to help these people avoid fines from the federal government, the state extended its enrollment period, which will now run through April 17 of this year.
Several states launch short-term extensions for enrollment, while others consider long-term extensions
California is considering following in Washington’s steps by extending its enrollment period as well. Massachusetts and Rhode Island have also extended their enrollment periods for a short amount of time, citing bad weather that had kept people from signing up for the exchange in person. Long-term extensions are also being considered by these states.