- About 14.5 million people signed up for healthcare coverage during the open enrollment period for Affordable Care Act plans that ran from Nov. 1 through Jan. 15, boosting enrollment in those plans to record levels, according to the Biden administration.
- Expanded tax credits through the American Rescue Plan helped drive down premiums, with average monthly premiums falling 23% compared to the 2021 open enrollment period before that legislation passed, according to HHS. Expanded outreach efforts also played a role driving up enrollment, health officials noted during a Thursday call with reporters.
- This follows a special enrollment period for the COVID-19 pandemic last year that ran from Feb.15 to Aug. 15, when 2.8 million people signed up for ACA plans.
Job losses throughout the pandemic have thrown millions off their employer-sponsored health coverage. One of the Biden administration's first big moves was launching a special enrollment period to keep people insured.
The 14.5 million sign-ups during open enrollment are a 21% increase over last year's period, CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said during Thursday's call.
CMS quadrupled the number of navigators to help people figure out what plans to sign up for and used unconventional media companies, targeting outreach to historically underinsured communities through local media, according to the agency.
It also held outreach events at local libraries, COVID-19 clinics and jobs fairs.
For example, Tennessee held 402 outreach events, and enrollment rose 42% year over year, and Georgia held 180 events with a 36% increase in enrollment year over year, Brooks-LaSure said.
At the same time, the expansion of premium tax credits beyond the end of this year hinges on passing President Joe Biden's Build Back Better plan, which would extend premiums for another three years, though that legislation has been stalled for months.
Open enrollment ended this month for most states, though the District of Columbia and five states have periods still running through Jan. 31, and Colorado, Maryland, New York and D.C. have special pandemic enrollment periods allowing people to sign up past the end of the initial open enrollment period.