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health as it happens

More than 2 million new people have signed up for health insurance in current ACA enrollment period, HHS says - Medical Economics

Nearly 14 million Americans now covered through ACA marketplace plans.

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More than 2 million new people have obtained health insurance through Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace plans during the 2021 open enrollment period, bringing the total number of people with ACA coverage to nearly 14 million, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

“We see that this open enrollment period continues to be like no other, with a record-setting number of people gaining health insurance through federal and state marketplaces,” Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said in a news release announcing the enrollment figures.

Brooks-LaSure attributed much of the gains to the American Rescue Plan. “The American Rescue Plan helped lower health care premiums, resulting in record-setting savings for millions of people across the country,” she said, adding that the enrollment period has been extended to January 15 for coverage that will begin February 1.

Enacted during the first months of the Biden Administration, the American Rescue Plan increased the tax credits used to subsidize premiums for low- and middle-income families that obtain health coverage through ACA plans.

In all, 13.8 million people now have health insurance through an ACA marketplace plan, including 2.02 million who’ve signed up during the current open enrollment period. Of the new enrollees, 1.6 million are in the 33 states using the federal marketplace’s Healthcare.gov platform, while 416,000 are in the other 17 states and the District of Columbia, that use their own platforms.

These increases are in addition to the more than 200,000 people who signed up during a special enrollment period that ran from mid-February through mid-Mayfor people who needed health care coverage during the pandemic.

Among states, Florida saw the largest number of new enrollees with 2.59 million, followed by California (1.73 million), and Texas (1.71 million). Vermont (26,000) and West Virginia (21,435) saw the smallest gains.

“President Biden promised to build on the Affordable Care Act and bring down the cost of health care, and those record numbers are proof that we delivered,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said.

Through December 15, the states using the Healthcare.gov platform saw a 21% increase in the number of insurance plans available to enrollees compared to last year’s open enrollment period, according to the news release. In addition, the Biden Administration has quadrupled to nearly 1,500 the number of “navigators” available to help people enroll in ACA plans.

Considered one of the key elements of the ACA, the marketplaces were launched in 2014 as a way to make health insurance more affordable for low- and middle-income individuals and families. Most people who obtain coverage through them receive premium subsidies in the form of tax credits.