The Washington Post has reported that HHS has released regulations extending the Marketplace open enrollment deadline to around mid-April for individuals who began, but did not complete, a Marketplace application. The extension appears to be based on a self-certification (honor) system, in which individuals attest that they could not timely complete the Marketplace application before the March 31 deadline.

This extension may have an impact on employer-sponsored plans to the extent individuals have more time to elect Marketplace benefits and therefore may decline employer-sponsored coverage at the next OE. Keep in mind that IRS cafeteria plan rules currently do not recognize enrollment in a Marketplace plan as a qualified status change that would allow an individual to drop employer-sponsored coverage outside of open enrollment. A narrow one-time exception allows sponsors of non-CY plans to add, drop or change major medical coverage during the 2013-2014 plan year with no associated status change event (such as for Marketplace enrollment). Some carriers have refused to allow this optional rule.