The CMS announced Wednesday that a record-breaking 16.3 million people signed up for Affordable Care Act marketplace plans during the 2023 open enrollment season, a result of extended pandemic-era subsidies enacted by the American Rescue Plan.
Over 1.8 million more people enrolled in marketplace coverage compared to last year — a 13% increase, and the most amount of plan selections of any year since the launch of the ACA marketplace a decade ago, according to the CMS. The record-breaking enrollment numbers include 3.6 million first-time marketplace enrollees.
Enrollment comes after last year’s passage of the Inflation Reduction Act extended ACA subsidies into 2025, protecting millions of Americans from premium hikes and reflecting a broader push in policy from the Biden administration aimed at increasing healthcare insurance coverage. This month, the HHS announced that the national rate of uninsured people under the age of 65 fell from 11.1% in 2019 to 10.5% in 2021.
However, some coverage protections rely on the federal COVID-19 public health emergency status, which will expire without an extension in mid-April. Medicaid enrollment numbers are expected to drop at the end of the public health emergency, with as many as 18 million enrollees projected to lose Medicaid coverage, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
In addition to a boost from subsidies, the CMS announced this month that it had quadrupled the number of navigators used to assist plan signups.