Almost 3M gained ACA coverage during special enrollment period

More than 2.8 million people gained health insurance during the special enrollment period for Affordable Care Act (ACA) coverage this year, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The 2021 special enrollment period on HealthCare.gov and state-based marketplaces ran from February 15 through August 15. Regular enrollment begins on November 1.

With the gains made during the SEP, there are now a record-breaking 12.2 million people enrolled in the federal and state marketplaces, HHS said.

Additionally, more than 82.3 million people are enrolled in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program as of April 2021. This is an increase of 580,591 individuals, compared to March 2021.

American Rescue Plan funds expanded premium tax credits to reduce premiums. More than 90% of consumers who enrolled during the SEP saw their premiums reduced. Close to half, 48%, of new HealthCare.gov consumers received a monthly premium of $10 or less after tax credits.

Also, the median deductible for new HealthCare.gov consumers fell by more than 90%.

ARP funds saved existing consumers a total of $537 million per month, HHS said.

According to the Commonwealth Fund, the ACA has reduced the number of uninsured people to historically low levels and helped more people access healthcare services, especially low-income people and people of color.

This means less uncompensated care for hospitals.

But long-term, the ACA reduced the annual increases in payments to hospitals under the traditional Medicare program. It also reduced payments to Medicare Advantage plans, according to another Commonwealth Fund report on the ACA.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said, “Thanks to the Special Enrollment Period, we were able to help a record-breaking number of people across the country get covered, including those in rural and underserved communities. No one should have to lose their life savings to gain life-saving care.”

“The American Rescue Plan made health coverage more affordable than ever, and CMS urges Congress to make those savings permanent,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “If you didn’t sign up before August 15th, you should know there are still opportunities to enroll this year for those who experienced recent life events or have been impacted by Hurricane Ida.”


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