Under an executive order issued by President Biden, the federal health insurance exchange marketplace—healthcare.gov
—will re-open for a special enrollment period from Feb. 15 through May 15, 2021. The Biden administration indicates this option is necessary as the COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges for individuals to access health insurance coverage.
At the end of December, 191,702 Wisconsinites had signed up for coverage through the insurance exchange in Wisconsin. Typically, health insurance coverage in the individual market can be purchased only during open enrollment from November through mid-December prior to the benefit year. Special enrollment periods are then offered throughout the year for individual circumstances that might constitute a “qualifying event,” such as having a child, getting married or losing a job.
During the upcoming special three-month window, consumers will not need to provide documentation of a qualifying event. Anyone who missed the original enrollment deadline will now be able to sign up, and people who are already enrolled will be able to change their plan. According to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, coverage for consumers who enroll under this special enrollment period will begin the first of the month after they select a plan.
Thus far, this special open enrollment window is only available for coverage through the federal health insurance exchange in which Wisconsin participates. However, on Feb. 9, the Wisconsin Office of the Insurance Commissioner released a bulletin
encouraging insurers to offer a similar special open enrollment period for products offered outside of the exchange marketplace.