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Trump Administration Rules Against Reopening HealthCare.gov to Uninsured

Despite requests from multiple states, including Pennsylvania, the Trump Administration decided against reopening the Affordable Care Act enrollment to uninsured Americans during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

While the open enrollment period to have coverage during 2020 ended several months ago, the Administration briefly considered relaunching HeatlhCare.gov, but then backed away from the idea, citing the following alternatives:

  • Extending employer coverage for up to 18 months through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) 
  • Medicaid
  • Short-term health insurance plans

COBRA plans tend to be very expensive, only low-income adults qualify for Medicaid, and short-term health insurance plans do not have the same benefits and consumer protections as Affordable Care Act plans. Some important differences that are of particular concern for patients include:

  • Inadequate coverage
  • Excluding coverage for pre-existing conditions
  • Lifetime and maximum limits on claims

The Pennsylvania Insurance Department and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services reminded Pennsylvanians that who experience certain major life changes, including the loss of employer-based health care coverage in conjunction with a job loss, are eligible to enroll in health insurance on the federal exchange. Information about these Special Enrollment Periods are available and the insurance department’s website and at HealthCare.gov.

Many states that currently operate their own insurance markets have taken the initiative to reopen enrollment as COVID-19 cases continue to grow. Pennsylvania is in the process of implementing its own state-based exchange and is on track to have that open this fall for the 2021 open enrollment period. 

HAP has reached out to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department (PID) to inquire whether there is any possibility of opening enrollment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We will inform members promptly of the response.

For questions, please contact Jolene Calla, HAP’s vice president of healthcare finance and insurance.

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