New Executive Order Establishes Special Enrollment Period for Marketplace Coverage

On January 28, 2021, President Biden issued an executive order directing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to expand access to Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage to assist with the COVID-19 public health emergency. In response, HHS announced a new special enrollment period that will allow individuals and families in the 36 states serviced by the platform to enroll in 2021 health insurance coverage.

Covered California, the agency that operates California’s health insurance marketplace, has launched a special enrollment period running from February 1, 2021 through May 14, 2021. This special enrollment period applies to all marketplace-eligible consumers who are submitting a new application or updating an existing application. Coverage begins the first day of the month following the date of plan selection.

According to Covered California, an estimated 2.7 million Californians are uninsured, including 1.2 million are either eligible for subsidies to help pay their monthly premiums or qualify for government-funded insurance through Medi-Cal. The new special-enrollment period will allow uninsured individuals to sign up for coverage without needing to meet the normal qualifying life events, such as recent loss of coverage or moving.

Signing up for coverage is also important because California’s individual mandate penalty remains in place for 2021. Consumers who can afford health care coverage, but choose
to go without, could pay a penalty when filing their state income taxes in 2022.The penalty is administered by California’s Franchise Tax Board, and could be as much as $2,250 for a family of four.

The new special enrollment period is intended to ensure that more individuals and families have access to quality, affordable health coverage during this unprecedented time.

For more information on the federal special open enrollment period, please visit

For more information on Covered California coverage options, please visit

Pacific Federal is a Zenith American Solutions company and subsidiary of Harbour Benefit Holdings, Inc.