As of February 17, 2015, Covered California executives released a statement that they may consider expanding the enrollment deadline for people who did not purchase 2015 insurance plans. This comes shortly after they did not hit their goal of 1.7 million sign ups (they were short by 300,000 according to ABC 7 News). However, according to the executives, the consideration is so that they can help individuals avoid the tax penalty. The government run exchange (healthcare.gov) is also contemplating extending the enrollment period.
Then the question remains: Are people choosing not to enroll because of the issues with Covered California plans including narrow provider networks, a shortage of participating doctors, high costs, etc.? Or are people choosing not to enroll because they think it’s cheaper to pay the penalty than to enroll in coverage? (Or are people not enrolling because the deadlines keep getting extended?)
Penalties for not enrolling in coverage in 2015 are $325/adult or 2% of one’s income (whichever is greater). These penalties will not be applied until Americans start doing taxes and once that time comes, it will be too late to enroll in coverage. Hence, why Covered California is considering offering a special enrollment period to help more Americans get covered prior to paying penalties.
However, if Covered California does open a special enrollment period, will these “deadlines” even matter in the future? If they extend the window, this will be the second year that many Californians will get another chance to enroll before facing a penalty. This may encourage people not to enroll on time since the deadlines/penalties aren’t being enforced by officials.
What do you think? Should Covered California offer a special enrollment period?