The federal government has tweaked the rules and changed the policy of obtaining insurance coverage on state health exchanges beginning immediately. This is in response to the sign up problems consumers have experienced attempting to obtain health insurance on the state run health exchanges.
Consumers have reported severe technical issues which prevented the ability to sign up for healthcare on their state exchanges since the beginning of enrollment which began October 1, 2013. The state run exchanges of Oregon, Massachusetts, Hawaii and Oregon have been particularly problematic.
The change in policy would allow consumers to access the federal subsidies and receive retroactive financial assistance if they qualify. Consumers who may qualify must have attempted to purchase a policy on the state exchange, but purchased a private policy that meets the specifications of the Affordable Care Act (ACA.) Exact details of how this would be realistically applied for each state and consumer were not released.
When creating a healthcare exchange each state had three options: run a state exchange, partner with federal governments’ exchange or use the federal government exchange. The breakdown of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia:
- State Exchange = 17
- Federal-State Partnership Exchange = 7
- Federal Exchange = 27
Obama administration said: “We recognize that some states have experienced difficulties in processing automated eligibility determinations and enrollments, and (are) providing options to marketplaces to ensure eligible consumers have access to financial assistance and issuers are paid.”
The state and federal exchanges will be open through March 31, 2014 for enrollment. Consumers must purchase insurance by March 15th for the insurance to begin April 1, 2014. If enrolled after March 15th insurance coverage would not begin until May 1, 2014.
Individuals face penalties in 2014 if not enrolled in an health insurance plan. The implementation of the ACA for small and medium businesses continues to be refined. The Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that 4 million Americans have signed up health insurance through late February. This figure encompasses enrollees at the state and federal exchanges.
The federal health exchange can be accessed at www.healthcare.gov.