That’s more than double the number who turned to the exchange, healthcare.gov, in the same period over the past two years, when enrollment was limited to those losing policies based on the ‘job and were experiencing other major life events, such as divorce, according to data released Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services. Around 209,000 and 171,000 consumers purchased health insurance during the same period in 2020 and 2019, respectively.
This year’s special registration period appears to attract more black and low-income Americans than in previous years, the agency said.
Of those enrollees who identified a race, 17% identified as Black, up from about 11% during the same time period in 2020 and 2019. And among consumers seeking financial assistance, 41% have household income. at or just above the federal poverty line, compared to 38% in 2020 and 33% in 2019.
Floridians and Texans have flocked to the federal stock exchange, with more than 146,000 and 98,000 residents registered, respectively. States, which have some of the highest uninsurance rates in the country, have so far had the most people to choose policies during this special enrollment period.
Biden’s healthcare initiatives
Since taking office, Biden and the Congressional Democrats have acted quickly to make enrollment in Obamacare policies easier and more affordable.
The 14 states, and the District of Columbia, which operate their own exchanges have also extended enrollment, although the durations differ from state to state.
Enrollers will pay no more than 8.5% of their income for coverage, compared to almost 10%. And low-income policyholders will receive subsidies that completely eliminate their premiums.
In addition, those earning more than 400% of the federal poverty line – about $ 51,000 for one person and $ 104,800 for a family of four in 2021 – are now eligible for assistance for the first time.
The heavier grants are expected to reduce premiums by an average of $ 50 per person, per month, or $ 85 per policy, per month. Four in five current registrants, on average, can now find a plan for $ 10 or less per month after federal aid.
However, those out of work are unlikely to be able to purchase the $ 0 premium coverage in the stimulus package until July, although they may now be eligible for either zero-cost or low-cost policies depending on their income.
The Department of Health and Social Services is still debating whether it can automatically apply the new grants to existing registrants who do not take action. Otherwise, they will receive the bonus when they file their taxes next spring.
Trying to reach the uninsured
Nearly 15 million uninsured Americans are eligible to receive the enhanced grants, according to the agency. But the number of registrations remains uncertain – studies show that many of those not covered are unaware of the help.
The administration spends $ 100 million on marketing and outreach, including broadcast and digital advertising, emails and text messages. It also awards $ 2.3 million to 30 organizations that help consumers sign up.
According to a recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, an additional 3.7 million people now have access to subsidized Obamacare coverage. The relief bill expanded availability to 21.8 million people, including insured and uninsured.
The average savings for current registrants will be $ 70 per month, or 25% of what they currently pay, Kaiser found.
About half of the remaining 29 million uninsured Americans are now eligible for coverage through Medicaid or a zero-premium Obamacare plan, according to Kaiser. This does not count the unemployed, who will also be able to access a policy at no cost.