- More than 2.8 million people signed up for healthcare coverage during the special enrollment period for Affordable Care Act plans that ran from Feb. 15 through Aug. 15, putting the number of people enrolled in an ACA plan at its highest level ever, according to a release from HHS.
- The American Rescue Plan passed earlier this year also expanded premium tax credits and helped drive down premiums — over 90% of those who enrolled during the SEP saw their premiums reduced, and 48% of new HealthCare.gov enrollees pay $10 or less a month in premiums after tax credits, according to the release.
- Existing enrollees have also benefited, saving an average of $67 a month on premiums, according to HHS.
Widespread job losses at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic threw millions off their employer-sponsored health coverage amid the public health crisis. One of the first major moves the Biden administration made was launching the special enrollment period, and now sign-ups have swelled to record numbers. Premium tax credits through the American Rescue Plan have also made coverage more affordable for some.
Millions of Americans signed up for new health coverage through HealthCare.gov and state-based marketplaces during the SEP, and there are now a record 12.2 million people enrolled in the federal and state marketplaces, according to HHS.
Enrollment in Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program is also at record levels with over 82.3 million enrollees as of April.
Since February 2020, right before the pandemic began to take hold in the U.S., more than 11.6 million people have signed up for those programs, according to HHS.
High enrollment in those programs, though, is partly attributable to the ban on terminating coverage through redeterminations during the COVID-19 public health emergency.
CMS is worried states may become overwhelmed trying to determine which enrollees can keep Medicaid coverage once the PHE ends.
Due to significantly increased workloads with a record number of enrollees, state health officials will now have 12 months instead of six after the PHE ends to complete pending verifications, redeterminations based on changes in circumstances and renewals for Medicaid and CHIP beneficiaries.
Early data suggests the public coverage gains throughout the pandemic did help offset employer-sponsored job losses.
From March 2019 to April 2021, about 5.5 million adults younger than 65 reported losing employer-sponsored coverage while 7.9 million adults reported gaining coverage through government programs, according to an August report from the Urban Institute funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
And data out Tuesday from the Census Bureau also found the uninsured rate held steady at 12.7% from early 2019 to early 2021 as gains in public insurance plans helped offset losses of private coverage.
The next open enrollment period starts Nov. 1 for coverage in 2022.