Those with incomes less than 150% of the federal poverty level — $19,320 for an individual and $39,750 for a family of four — can select policies on healthcare.gov through a special enrollment period, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services told CNN exclusively on Monday. Most people will be able to select plans with no premiums, while others may have to pay a few dollars.
The agency is launching advertising and outreach campaigns to spread the word about the new special enrollment period, which lasts for the rest of the year. The effort will also target those experiencing certain life changes, such as losing job-based coverage, getting divorced or aging out of a parent’s policy, which have always allowed them to sign up for Obamacare policies during the year.
“We’re doing year-round outreach on marketplace coverage to make sure that people know that it’s available to them and really get the word out to new communities,” CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure told CNN.
The 17 states (and Washington, DC) that run their own marketplaces can also opt to run special enrollment periods for their low-income residents. Most, including Maine, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, have already started doing so.
For the past few weeks, those eligible could enroll only using the federal exchange’s call center.
The special enrollment period could run beyond 2022 if Congress extends the enhanced premium assistance, which expires after this year.
Increased interest in Affordable Care Act coverage
Giving low-income Americans more opportunity to sign up is important because the economy has not fully recovered, said Sabrina Corlette, co-director of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University.
“We’re still dealing with a lot of disruption in people’s lives,” said Corlette, noting some are still contending with changes in their jobs or residences.
And it’s important to have health insurance since Covid-19 continues to plague the nation, she said.