Apr. 3—The Obama administration has given people who self-attest that they were waiting in line at the end of open enrollment until April 15 to sign up for coverage, a move that could boost enrollments past 7.1 million.

“You must finish your enrollment by April 15 to get coverage for 2014,” said a new healthcare.gov post. “If you enroll by April 15, your coverage will begin May 1.”

No date for the extended enrollment in plans offered through the federally run insurance marketplaces was offered by Obama administration officials when the extension of open enrollment was announced on March 26. Previously, open enrollment was scheduled to end March 31.

Julie Bataille, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said in a call with reporters that the ongoing extension is similar to the extension given in December 2013, during which applicants to healthcare.gov were repeatedly provided more time to enroll in coverage and have it activated on Jan. 1. No estimates were offered for the additional sign ups expected from the current extension, but the December extension enabled about 20,000 more applicants to obtain coverage, she said.

The extension is expected to add to the 7.1 enrollees that the Obama administration has said signed up by the March 31 deadline. That enrollment figure is expected to fluctuate—possibly widely—because up to 20 percent have not paid their premiums and special circumstances will allow others to sign up throughout the year.

Enrollment Decline Coming?

Related marketplace research warns that the new enrollment figures may not be sustained throughout the year. Researchers from University of California Berkeley projected recently that nearly half (47 percent) of the subsidized enrollees in the largest ACA state marketplace could leave during the year. 

That marketplace was considered by ACA advocates as one of the greatest success stories of the law since it was able to garner 1.2 million signups.

The largest shares of enrollees leaving the California exchange, called Covered California, will depart for Medicaid (21 percent) or employer coverage (18 percent), but another 8 percent of current enrollees will become uninsured.   

The authors of the University of California Berkeley research also projected that 25 percent of the state’s Medicaid enrollees with incomes below 139 percent of the federal poverty level will un-enroll, including 17 percent who will move to the marketplace due to income increases. The estimate is considered a “best-case scenario,” according to the authors, because it does not include enrollees who inevitably will fail to renew their Medicaid status.Bio:

Rich Daly is a senior writer/editor in HFMA’s Washington, D.C., office. Follow Rich on Twitter @rdalyhealthcare.


Publication Date: Thursday, April 03, 2014