WASHINGTON — A record 16.3 million people have applied for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act this year, doubling the number covered when the marketplaces first launched nearly a decade ago, the Biden administration said Wednesday.
More than 3 million new entrants have joined the market, also known as “Obamacare”, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
The government has been working with nonprofit groups and investing in program specialists who have helped enroll people from low-income, immigrant, black and Hispanic communities to enroll more people, said Chiquita Brooks-Lasur, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
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“We have made an unprecedented investment to expand our enrollment organization’s reach to nearly every county in the country and target the most hard-to-reach communities,” she said.
The increase in coverage is due to the fact that the number of uninsured people is at an all-time low – only 8% of people in the United States remain uninsured.
President Joe Biden and the Democratic-led Congress have allocated millions of dollars over the past two years to unlock low-cost insurance plans for more people and to prevent states from excluding people from Medicaid during the COVID-19 pandemic. The market itself has also evolved in recent years, with more insurance companies joining in, giving the vast majority of Americans at least three plans to consider at the time of registration.
Those coverage breaks have been extended through 2025 under a major climate and health bill that Democrats championed last year.
Some of that progress is at risk this year as millions of people are expected to lose their Medicaid coverage starting this spring when states begin the process of excluding people who are no longer eligible, in many cases because their income is now too high to meet the requirements.
Some of those who lose Medicaid are expected to move into the market, and the administration has said it will spend $12 million to keep information specialists working in the coming months to help people enroll in the health law market if they lose Medicaid coverage.
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