Special enrollment period announced for ACA enrollees affected by winter storm

Published 8:00 am Saturday, December 29, 2018

North Carolina Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey has announced an extended enrollment period for winter storm victims who wish to apply for health insurance on the federal healthcare exchange.  

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has informed the department of insurance that individuals who were unable to sign up because of the winter storm that impacted western and central North Carolina may be eligible for an Exceptional Circumstances Special Enrollment Period.

The deadline to enroll in the 2018 federal Affordable Healthcare Act exchange was Dec. 15. However, residents who were unable to enroll because of a power loss or the inability to travel can still apply for coverage. In addition, people who were unable to enroll because healthcare navigators (people designated to help enrollees navigate the application process) lost power or could not travel can still apply for coverage. 

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CMS caseworkers will evaluate an individual’s eligibility to enroll under an Exceptional Enrollment Period Circumstances Special on a case-by-case basis.

To take advantage of this special enrollment period,  applicants must complete an application on the HealthCare.gov website.  Even though applicants will receive a rejection notice because their application was completed after the Dec. 15 deadline, their enrollment information will be in the federal healthcare database. This is a critical step. 

After receiving the rejection notice, applicants should contact the marketplace call center at 800-318-2596 (TTY: 855-889-4325) and indicate they are eligible because they were not able to complete their enrollment because of the winter storm emergency. 

After talking with a CMS representative, a caseworker will determine whether the individual qualifies for a special enrollment opportunity.  This may take several days.

CMS has not set a deadline as to when this Special Enrollment Period will end. However, individuals are encouraged to complete the process as soon as possible.

The Dec. 8 and 9 winter storm left crippling amounts of snow in western and central North Carolina, knocking out power and making travel hazardous in some areas. 

Those interested in learning more may contact the North Carolina Department of Insurance at 1-855-408-1212.

– Submitted article