State Leaders Applaud Biden Administration for Opening Marketplace Special Enrollment Period and Making Medicaid More Accessible

This release was also issued by Governor Whitmer’s Office.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  January 28, 2021

Media Contact: Laura Hall, 517-290-3779, halll17@michigan.gov
Consumer Hotline: 877-999-6442, Michigan.gov/DIFScomplaints

LANSING, MICH - Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS), and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) applaud President Joe Biden’s decision to open a Health Insurance Marketplace special enrollment period and relax Medicaid requirements, both of which will help more Michiganders obtain affordable health coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“No Michigander should have to worry about access to quality, affordable health care, especially during a pandemic,” said Governor Gretchen Whitmer. “In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan saw an estimated 46% increase in the number of uninsured adults, and there are still thousands of people who need coverage. President Joe Biden’s executive order to reopen the health insurance marketplace will go a long way in expanding health coverage to Michiganders and I couldn’t be more grateful for his leadership during this difficult time.”

Open enrollment for 2021 coverage ended on Dec. 15, 2020 and, after a joint DIFS/MDHHS open enrollment outreach effort, 267,070 Michiganders purchased health coverage on the Health Insurance Marketplace. After several years of declining enrollment, this represented a nearly 2% increase compared to the 2019 open enrollment period. During the early months of the pandemic, Michigan experienced an estimated 46% increase in the number of uninsured adults and thousands of Michiganders remain uninsured, underlining the need for this federal action. The state will launch outreach efforts to help Michiganders sign up for health coverage during this upcoming special enrollment period that will run from Feb. 15 through May 15.

“Many Michiganders lost their health insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic at a time when health care and coverage are more important than ever,” said DIFS Director Anita Fox. “Governor Whitmer and DIFS repeatedly urged the federal government for additional opportunities for Michigan families to obtain low- and no-cost coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. By opening up this special enrollment period, the Biden administration has given us an important tool to make sure that Michiganders can get the health coverage they need to protect themselves and their families.”

Outside of the regular open enrollment period, Marketplace enrollment opportunities are normally limited to those who experience a qualifying life event such as job loss or losing their health coverage. These exceptions require people to seek permission individually and many are unaware that they might qualify to get coverage, often at a reduced cost through tax credits. The Biden order creates a new special enrollment period, which will enable anyone who needs health coverage during the pandemic to purchase a plan without requiring a qualifying life event, greatly enhancing access to health coverage.

In addition to the order reopening enrollment on the Health Insurance Marketplace, President Biden issued a second order, which requires federal agencies to re-examine policies that may undermine health coverage enrollment or make it more difficult or expensive to sign up. The order also asks federal agencies to re-examine certain Medicaid demonstrations and waivers, including work requirements, enabling more low-income people to become eligible for coverage. Michigan’s Medicaid program and its Medicaid expansion program, the Healthy Michigan Plan, are administered by MDHHS.

“We are extremely excited about this announcement from President Biden. We are supportive of anything the federal government can do to work hand-in-hand with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in making sure more people have access to health care coverage,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “It is even more important during a pandemic that all Michiganders be able to seek medical treatment without having to worry about lacking health care coverage due to their income.”

For more information about health insurance, consumers should visit Michigan.gov/HealthInsurance or call 877-999-6442 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Consumers are eligible to apply for the Healthy Michigan Plan at any time online by visiting Michigan.gov/MIBridges or by calling 855-789-5610.

The mission of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services is to ensure access to safe and secure insurance and financial services fundamental for the opportunity, security, and success of Michigan residents, while fostering economic growth and sustainability in both industries. In addition, the Department provides consumer protection, outreach, and financial literacy and education services to Michigan residents. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/difs or follow the Department on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

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