March 25, 2014 – March 31, 2014

Notable updates

  • 2014 open enrollment ends: Consumers who attempted to get covered by March 31 are still able to complete the enrollment process (see below for more details). Also, if someone experiences a qualifying life event during the year, such as losing coverage or getting married, they may be able to qualify for a special enrollment period (SEP), and eligible individuals can enroll in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program year-round. Otherwise, the 2015 open enrollment period for the individual market runs from November 15, 2014 through February 15, 2015.
  • Special enrollment periods for “in-line consumers”
    • Federally facilitated marketplace (FFMs): While the open enrollment deadline for marketplace plans was March 31, consumers “in-line” for coverage (attesting that they made a good faith effort to enroll previously) will get a limited time to complete the enrollment process. Consumers can qualify for this SEP through HealthCare.gov or the federal call center.
    • State-based marketplaces (SBMs): Most SBMs are doing a similar “in-line” SEP for interested consumers. Each state is a little different, California, for example, has a specific definition of “in-line” and Maryland requires consumers to call a hotline (1-800-396-1961) to report that tried to enroll. A few states are following other paths. For example, Washington State is not having a general SEP for “in-line” consumers and Oregon is extending enrollment through the end of April.
  • FFM special enrollment period for complex cases: Consumers living in FFM states may also get a special SEP if they have been unable to enroll due to an eligibility and enrollment system error, assister failure, or certain exceptional circumstances. To get this special SEP, the consumer needs to call the federal call center.
  • April coverage: Coverage begins on Tuesday, April 1 for consumers who signed up in the marketplaces between February 16 and March 15.

Top Successes

  • Extraordinary consumer interest: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that, last week, nearly nine million consumers visited HealthCare.gov and 2.5 million called the federal call center (which is more calls than in all of February!). Before noon on March 31 alone, HealthCare.gov received more than a million visits including more than 125,000 concurrent users.

Challenges

  • Technical issues due to high volume on March 31: In response to the high demand on March 31, HealthCare.gov placed consumers attempting to enroll in queues to prevent the website from overloading, and temporarily stopped accepting new users between noon and 2pm. Covered California also reported that their site was running slow, and Washington State’s website had intermittent outages. The marketplaces are working to address these issues and will allow consumers who had technical problems to finish their enrollments after March 31.
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