More than 2 million sign up during ObamaCare special enrollment period


Administration officials announced Wednesday that more than 2 million people have signed up for health insurance during the special enrollment period using both federal and state marketplaces.

A total of 1.5 million Americans have enrolled in coverage through throughout the special sign-up period, while another 600,000 used the 15 state-based marketplaces, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said.

The new sign-ups pushed the number of Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollees to a record high, though Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said the final enrollment count was not yet available.

Throughout the ongoing special enrollment period that the Biden administration opened on Feb. 15 and is slated to end on Aug. 15, health care sign-ups have swelled, after previously being open for six weeks. A month ago, the Biden administration said 1.2 million Americans had signed up for coverage.

For Wednesday’s figures, HHS included consumers who signed up through state-based marketplaces in the total for the first time, Brooks-LaSure told reporters.

She credited the administration’s open enrollment period for the increased sign-ups. States that run health care exchanges manage their own enrollment periods, but most have opened up sign-ups to coincide with the federal timeline, Brooks-LaSure said.

“When you make coverage affordable, when you make it easy for people to enroll, they will do so,” Brooks-LaSure said. “And I think that’s why we’re seeing record enrollment in the Medicaid program, and that’s why we’re seeing record enrollment in the marketplaces in terms of people coming back.”

When asked whether the enrollment period would be extended, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said, “that’s something we can discuss.”

“The president obviously is very interested in getting as many Americans as possible to sign up,” he said. “Clearly, the record numbers that are taking advantage of the special enrollment period show that folks are interested, I don’t believe the president wants to leave anyone behind. And so we’ll take a close look.”

Officials also said 34 percent of new and returning enrollees who have chosen a plan since April 1 will pay $10 or less per month for their health care after premium reductions through the American Rescue Plan. The administration is striving to make the decreased premium costs permanent, Becerra said.

At the same time, a record 81 million people have received coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) as of February. During a 12-month period starting in February 2020, Medicaid and CHIP coverage saw a 14.7 percent increase in enrollees.

The administration has sought to expand health care coverage under the ACA, including through reopening enrollment, as millions remain uninsured due in part to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Trump administration decided against providing an extra enrollment period after the pandemic began because, officials said, people who lost employment health coverage could already sign up.

Updated at 12:48 p.m.

Tags ACA Affordable Care Act Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services CMS Department of Health and Human Services health care coverage HHS Joe Biden ObamaCare special enrollment Xavier Becerra
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