In February of this year, newly sworn-in President Biden authorized a special enrollment period into all healthcare.gov insurance plans. The Biden administration did this as an additional measure to assist with the financial impact of Covid-19. With millions hospitalized and in need of costly medical interventions, the special enrollment period, along with the newly created subsidies, gave many people without health insurance coverage the opportunity to apply for the health insurance they so desperately needed.
Special Enrollment Period Extension
Initially, the administration slated the special enrollment period (SEP) to last for three months. However, the sheer volume of those applying during the special enrollment period signaled the need for an extension. Shortly after the government enacted the SEP, they extended the timeframe to give more people the opportunity to participate. Next, they decided that six months should be allotted for special enrollment. This decision moved the end of the SEP into the middle of August.
During the SEP, more than 2.5 million people signed up to receive healthcare coverage. Additionally, more than 81.5 million receive coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program. This data comes from March of this year.
Results as early as June of this year indicate that many people took advantage of the special enrollment period. They did so to either upgrade their plan or to reduce their overall costs. With many people out of work, finding ways to save money is everyone’s top priority for the foreseeable future. According to estimates in June, roughly one-third of all returning marketplace users were able to save $10 or more per month on their plan. In fact, over 2 million returning users were able to lower their plan premiums by an average of 40% by taking advantage of special tax credits and subsidies made available through the marketplace. For new users, the average monthly plan premium was approximately 25% less overall than in previous years. This was made possible through the use of premium tax credit advances.
More Coverage Than Ever
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, a newly released report shows that a record 31 million Americans now have health insurance coverage. Also demonstrated by this report, each state showed a reduction in rates of uninsured since the expansion of the ACA took effect, and premium tax credits and additional subsidies were provided during the special enrollment period. One of the biggest boons of the special enrollment period was the expansion of Medicaid by certain states to persons who were previously ineligible. This change accounted for 14.8 million newly enrolled Medicaid recipients who previously had been denied coverage for various reasons.
The numbers of uninsured Americans have continued to decrease every year since the establishment of the Affordable Care Act. And the 2021 Special Enrollment Period and American Rescue Plan Act have assisted millions of more Americans in receiving coverage for themselves and their families at drastically reduced rates.