WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra recently announced that more than half a million consumers have already signed up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov as a result of the Biden Administration’s Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The SEP, along with the additional financial assistance afforded by the American Rescue Plan (ARP), offers the opportunity for individuals and families to take advantage of significantly reduced premiums, increased savings, and quality, affordable health coverage through the Marketplaces using the Federal Platform.
“Access to quality, affordable health care is essential – especially as we tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Since the beginning of this Special Enrollment Period’s availability on HealthCare.gov, more than 500,000 Americans have already signed up for coverage on HealthCare.gov. Now, thanks to the American Rescue Plan, health care coverage is more affordable and millions of Americans are seeing their premiums reduced. At HHS, we are going to build on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and work tirelessly to ensure Americans have the chance to sign up for quality, affordable health care coverage that meets their needs.”
The report from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which covers plan selections from February 15 to March 31, also shows gains in enrollment among historically uninsured communities, including Black consumers and Americans near the poverty level. Of applicants who identified a race, 17% identified as Black – compared to about 11% in both 2020 and 2019 during the same time period. Among consumers requesting financial assistance, 41% report being at or slightly above the federal poverty level, compared to 38% in 2020 and 33% in 2019.
Nearly 15 million Americans who currently lack health insurance, and many current enrollees, are eligible to receive additional financial support in obtaining Marketplace coverage as part of the ARP. An average of four out of five consumers currently enrolled in Marketplace coverage can now find a plan for $10 or less per month after financial assistance.
As of April 1, 2021, premiums are expected to decrease by an average of $50-per-person, per month – and $85-per-policy, per month with the implementation of the enhanced financial assistance available under the ARP. Current Marketplace enrollees, including those who recently enrolled through the 2021 SEP, can update their application and enrollment during the SEP to receive increased advance payments of the premium tax credit for 2021 Marketplace coverage.
CMS states it is also focusing on outreach efforts and announced last month an additional $2.3 million in funding available to current Navigator grantees in Federally-facilitated Marketplace states to support outreach, education and enrollment efforts around the 2021 SEP. CMS is also spending an additional $50 million towards outreach and an educational campaign, which includes broadcast and digital advertising and educating consumers through email and text messages. While the 2021 SEP is available to all Marketplace-eligible consumers in HealthCare.gov states, particular outreach efforts are focused on reaching diverse communities in response to the Administration’s goals on health equity and the significant impact of this pandemic on Hispanic and African American communities.
The 2021 SEP is available to consumers in the 36 states with Marketplaces that use the HealthCare.gov platform through August 15, 2021.
For more information on the March enrollment report, visit: www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/2021-marketplace-special-enrollment-period-report-0.
For more information about the Health Insurance Marketplace, visit: https://www.healthcare.gov/quick-guide/getting-marketplace-health-insurance/.
For more information about the American Rescue Plan and the Health Insurance Marketplace, visit: https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/american-rescue-plan-and-marketplace.
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