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President Biden to Reopen Insurance Marketplace, Expand Affordable Care Act

January 29, 2021

President Joe Biden signed an executive order yesterday to open a special enrollment period for Americans who need health insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic and others who currently lack health coverage.

The special enrollment period would begin February 15, 2021, and end May 15, 2021. About 8.3 million Americans signed up for coverage through the federal government’s insurance exchange during open enrollment from November 1, 2020, to December 15, 2020.

In addition to the special enrollment period, the Biden Administration also asked federal agencies to re-examine several policies related to the Affordable Care Act, such as:

  • Protections for people with pre-existing conditions, including complications related to COVID-19
  • Demonstrations and waivers under Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act
  • Enrollment for coverage on the federal health insurance marketplace and the Medicaid program
  • Affordability of coverage or financial assistance, including for dependents 

Pennsylvania’s insurance officials have not said if the commonwealth will reopen its new health insurance marketplace, Pennie, for a special enrollment period, but state officials have said they plan to review the Biden Administration’s executive order. Currently, Pennsylvanians can still seek coverage through Pennie during special election periods triggered by specific life events, such as divorce, death of a subscriber, or a dependent, etc.

Last month, Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman and ten other state insurance commissioners wrote a letter to the Biden Administration, recommending a special enrollment period for the federal health insurance exchange.  

Open enrollment on the state’s new marketplace began November 1, 2020, and closed January 15, 2021, with more than 330,000 Pennsylvanians signing up for coverage. The state transitioned away from the federal insurance portal in an effort to increase access and affordability through the state’s reinsurance program.

HAP supports federal policies and legislation that ensure patients across the commonwealth have access to quality health care. For more information, contact Laura Stevens Kent, HAP’s senior vice president, strategic integration or Jolene Calla, HAP’s vice president, health care finance and insurance.