ObamaCare open enrollment hits record numbers
A record 13.6 million people have enrolled in health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act to date, with another month left before open enrollment ends, Biden administration officials said Wednesday.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), more than 9.7 million Americans enrolled in coverage in the 33 states using HealthCare.gov for 2022 from the start of open enrollment through Dec. 15.
CMS said there were over 900,000 more people compared to the previous all-time high of 8.8 million who signed up during the 2018 Open Enrollment Period, when there were 39 states using HealthCare.gov.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said much of the progress was due to increased outreach, as well as the premium assistance from the American Rescue Plan which helped make coverage more affordable.
According to CMS, 92 percent of people in the 33 states with a federally-run exchange who signed up for plans through December 15 will receive premium tax credits. Becerra said nine out of 10 consumers have plans for less than $10 a month.
"The historic 13.6 million people who have enrolled in a health insurance plan so far this period shows that the demand and need for affordable health care remains high," Becerra said in a statement.
The Biden administration and congressional Democrats are trying to extend that premium assistance through the $1.7 trillion Build Back Better (BBB) plan, though its prospects were dealt a major blow by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and are uncertain, at best.
The ACA cut off premium assistance for people earning more than 400 percent of the poverty level as a way to cut down on costs. The American Rescue Plan expanded the law's subsidies to people earning above that level, but only for two years.
The BBB would make those subsidies permanent. If the law doesn't pass, hundreds of thousands of people would see premium increases.
Open enrollment began Nov. 1 and runs through Jan. 15, a month longer than under the Trump administration. Since President Biden took office, 4.6 million additional people gained health insurance coverage.
The administration has made bolstering and reinvigorating ObamaCare a focus, including by boosting subsidies, extending open enrollment and increasing funding for outreach. It has added marketing in six additional languages.
The Biden administration this year quadrupled the number of navigators, who help people sign up for coverage, to 1,500. The intent was to focus on communities with extremely high uninsured rates.