More than 2 million Americans have signed up for 2021 coverage during a special enrollment period on the Obamacare federal and state exchanges, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Wednesday.
The report includes plan selections from February 15, when President Joe Biden reopened enrollment to the uninsured, through June. Some 1.5 million people have signed up on the federal exchange, healthcare.gov, while more than 600,000 have selected policies in the 14 states and the District of Columbia that run their own exchanges
The special enrollment period for the federal exchange is set to end August 15, though administration officials said they are looking at extending it. States that run their own marketplaces have set their own deadlines.
The additional sign ups have pushed Obamacare enrollment to a record level, though officials said they were not providing the figure now due to data lags. Total enrollment will be released soon.
“When you make coverage affordable, when you make it easy for people to enroll, they will do so,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure.
In addition, among new and returning consumers who have selected a plan since April 1, some 1.2 million, or 34%, picked policies that cost $10 or less per month when factoring in the enhanced premium subsidies made available by the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan. About 2.5 million enrollees have returned to the exchange to see what’s available, Brooks-LaSure said.
The March relief package made two changes to premium subsidies for all enrollees to address long-standing complaints that Obamacare plans are not affordable for many people, particularly the middle class. The enhanced subsidies became available on April 1.
Enrollees now pay no more than 8.5% of their income toward coverage, down from nearly 10%. And lower-income policyholders can receive subsidies that eliminate their premiums completely.
Also, those earning more than 400% of the federal poverty level — about $51,000 for an individual and $104,800 for a family of four in 2021 — are now eligible for help for the first time.
Administration officials also pointed out that Medicaid enrollment hit an all-time high of 81 million in February, largely because of temporary federal rules that require states to keep participants continuously enrolled during the public health emergency.
The agency is focused on making sure a large swath of Medicaid enrollees don’t lose coverage when the public health emergency ends, Brooks-LaSure said.
Nearly 400,000 people have been found to be eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) during the open enrollment period.
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