More than 200,000 people signed up for health coverage on federal ObamaCare exchanges in the first two weeks of a special pandemic enrollment period, according to federal statistics released Wednesday.
An executive order signed by President BidenJoe BidenManchin to vote to nix Biden's vaccine mandate for larger businesses Congress averts shutdown after vaccine mandate fight Senate cuts deal to clear government funding bill MORE in January allows uninsured Americans to sign up for coverage on healthcare.gov from Feb. 15 through May 15.
Most states that operate their own exchanges have also extended open enrollment, which is typically available only for qualifying life events such as getting married, a job loss or a move.
During the Trump administration, the federal enrollment season was a six-week period near the end of the year.
"These numbers are an encouraging sign — but we can’t slow down until every American has the security and peace of mind that quality, affordable health coverage provides," Biden said in a statement.
Biden urged people to continue to make use of the enrollment period.
"There is plenty of time left to sign up, and I encourage everyone who needs health insurance to go to HealthCare.gov before May 15,” Biden said. “If you already have coverage, you can help family members and friends who are uninsured get themselves covered.”
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the number of signups from Feb. 15 to Feb. 28 was nearly three times higher than during the same period last year, when only 76,000 people signed up.
Nearly 30 million people were uninsured in 2019 before the pandemic, according to the Census Bureau, but the Trump administration opted not to open a special enrollment period for them during the pandemic despite doing so for natural disasters in the past.
The Trump administration slashed budgets for outreach, and made little effort to publicize any of its Affordable Care Act open enrollment periods.
The Biden administration has pledged $50 million towards an advertising campaign to promote the special enrollment period, and this week announced $2.3 million in additional funding for 30 "navigator" groups, which provide outreach, education and enrollment assistance, particularly in underserved communities.
Navigators faced significant funding cuts under the Trump administration, which argued they were not effective.
There are 36 states that use the federal exchanges. According to CMS, Florida and Texas had the most people sign up for coverage so far, with nearly 62,000 people and 35,000 people selecting plans, respectively.