Open enrollment deadline to sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act extended due to Irma

Charleston Post and Courier
December 22, 2017

By Mary Katherine Wildeman

If you missed the Dec. 15 deadline to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, the federal government may have given you a Christmas present: The deadline has been extended two weeks, to Dec. 31, because of Hurricane Irma.

The federal government made a point this year to shorten the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period. It was always the plan since the law’s inception to do so.

In years past, that period — a stretch of time at the end of the year when people who need individual health insurance could sign up for it — lasted for three months. This year, it was supposed to last for six weeks, ending Dec. 15.

Frank Knapp, president and CEO of the S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce, said notification came this week that the deadline would be extended by two weeks.

The extension is called a Special Enrollment Period. It was instituted under the Affordable Care Act to allow citizens with mitigating circumstances to sign up for insurance past the deadline. This year the Special Enrollment Period applies to anyone who lives in an area affected by Hurricane Irma — and that includes South Carolina, where it landed as a tropical storm.

According to information from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, all people have to do is “attest” that they live in a Hurricane Irma-affected area. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has defined all 46 South Carolina counties as meeting that benchmark. No documented proof is required; consumers should call 1-800-318-2596 and tell the assister they were affected by the storm and were unable to sign up before the deadline.


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