CMS extends open enrollment period until Aug. 15

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The Biden administration on Tuesday extended the exchange special enrollment period until Aug. 15, giving consumers in 36 states three more months to signup for coverage through HealthCare.gov.

According to CMS, the change will allow more people to take advantage of greater financial assistance for marketplace plans under the American Rescue Plan. President Joe Biden signed the bill into law earlier this month. About 1 in 4 people who enroll in coverage through the federal website will be able to upgrade to a plan with lower out-of-pocket costs or a lower premium than their current plan, the agency said. Consumers can cash in on the additional savings starting April 1.

“Every American deserves access to quality, affordable healthcare – especially as we fight back against the COVID-19 pandemic,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement. “Through this special enrollment period, the Biden administration is giving the American people the chance they need to find an affordable healthcare plan that works for them. The American Rescue Plan will bring costs down for millions of Americans.”

Biden delivered on a campaign promise shortly after taking office, creating a special enrollment period that kicked off Feb. 15. According to CMS, more than 200,000 people signed up for coverage through HealthCare.gov during the first two weeks of open enrollment.

The Trump administration refused to create a special enrollment period during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite requests from providers, insurers, consumer groups and Democrats to do so. It said the special period would be unnecessary, as people could enroll due to changes in employment or other circumstances without the designation. Several states reopened their own exchanges shortly after the crisis began to alleviate concerns that people without insurance would be reluctant or unable to access care during the pandemic.

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