More than 3 million new members joined the marketplace, also known as “Obamacare,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The government worked with nonprofit groups and invested in program specialists who helped enroll people in low-income, immigrant, black, and Latino communities to register more peoplesaid Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“We made unprecedented investments to expand our enrollment organization’s footprint to nearly every county in the country, targeting the hardest-to-reach communities,” she said.
The increase in enrollment comes as the number of uninsured people is at an all-time low – only 8% of them in the US remain without coverage.
President Joe Biden and a Democratic-led Congress have committed millions of dollars over the past two years unlocking low-cost insurance plans for more people and prohibiting states from kicking people out of Medicaid during the COVID-19 pandemic. The marketplace itself has also evolved in recent years, with more insurance companies joining, giving an overwhelming majority of Americans at least three plans to consider when signing up.
These coverage breaks were extended to 2025 under a major climate and health bill championed by Democrats last year.
The low-cost plans, which offer zero-dollar premiums for some who enter the market, have turned around what was a flat market for the Obama-era health care law, said Massey Whorley, principal at health consulting firm Avalere.
“To have this level of continued increase is really interesting,” Whorley said. “We were in a position several years ago where overall exchange enrollment was flat and declining, so a lot of people thought the exchanges were this stable but declining environment.”
However, the significant progress in lowering the uninsured rate across the country is under threat this year. Millions of people expected to lose their Medicaid coverage starting in the spring, when states will begin the process of removing people who are no longer eligible, in many cases because their income is now too high to qualify.
Some of those people are expected to switch from Medicaid to the marketplace, and the administration said it is spending $12 million to keep information specialists on the job in the coming months to help people enroll in the health law’s marketplace if they lose Medicaid coverage .
Some who have had Medicaid coverage for the past few years will decide they can save a few dollars each month to keep coverage through the health law’s marketplace, Whorley said. Others may decide they can’t afford coverage that often has higher deductibles, deductibles and monthly premiums than Medicaid.
“They’re going to have to make real choices,” Whorley said. “If you’re already struggling to make rent and pay your utilities, put gas in your car, put food on the table, maybe you’re just not in a position.”
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