Individuals 36 states served by Marketplaces that use the platform will have another opportunity to sign up for health care coverage through the federal marketplace later this month.

Late last month, President Joe Biden signed an executive order expanding access to the Affordable Care Act program by opening a special enrollment period (SEP) for Americans to sign up for individual health insurance coverage through the federal marketplace.

The enrollment period will be open Feb. 15 through May 15.

It’s hard to predict who may take advantage of this new special enrollment period. Individuals would already qualify for ACA enrollment any time of the year in the event of job loss and other life changing circumstances.

Possibly the open enrollment period was geared toward individuals who planned to sign up through the individual market, but didn’t enroll during the initial sign-up period because they felt they couldn’t afford it, or it could be meant to bolster the program that Biden helped introduce under the Obama administration and that former Pres. Trump had worked to diminish.

Consumers who are eligible and enroll under this SEP will be able to select a plan with coverage that starts prospectively the first of the month after plan selection. Consumers will have 30 days after they submit their application to choose a plan.

Current enrollees will be able to change to any available plan in their area without restriction to the same level of coverage as their current plan. In order to use this SEP, current enrollees will need to step through their application and make any changes if needed to their current information and submit their application in order to receive an updated eligibility result before continuing on to enrollment

Enrollment in the Affordable Care Act, launched in 2014, reached an all-time high enrollment for 2017, which occurred as the result of the last enrollment period under the Obama administration.

The Trump administration made no secret of its opposition to the law and after failing to overturn it in Congress has used executive actions to undermine it. They significantly shortened the enrollment period and drastically reduced money toward navigators who help people use the website and find the best ACA plan for them.

Last year, despite massive unemployment enrollment in ACA was up, but only about 7%. Of the total, 23% of consumers were new, down by 3.6%. Renewing consumers who actively chose a new plan and those who were automatically re-enrolled both increased.

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