President Joe Biden is trying to help HealthCare.gov improve its special enrollment period sales. He put out a statement Wednesday that encourages uninsured people to sign up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act public exchange program.
HealthCare.gov is supposed to be a web-based supermarket for private health insurance, for people in states that have been unable or unwilling to set up their own ACA health insurance exchange programs. In recent years, its regular open enrollment period has lasted from Nov. 15 through Dec. 15. People who wanted to get covered outside of the open enrollment period had to show they had what the government considered a good excuse to qualify for a special enrollment period.
In an effort to help people fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the Biden administration added a broad HealthCare.gov special enrollment period that started Feb. 15 and is set to end May 15.
Early Special Enrollment Period Numbers
In early February, before the special enrollment period started, about 12 million people were using health coverage purchased through HealthCare.gov or through a state-run ACA public exchange program.
The Biden administration estimated that about 9 million people with no health coverage, or overly expensive health coverage, could qualify for ACA premium tax credit subsidies if they signed up for coverage through an ACA public exchange.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported Wednesday that 206,236 people had selected new health coverage through HealthCare.gov during the two-week period ending Feb. 28.
That number is small in comparison with the 9 million-person market that administration officials described before the COVID-19 special enrollment period started. Biden administration officials said the number of signups is much higher than the 76,000 signups recorded during the comparable period in 2020.
The number of new 2020 special enrollment period signups ranged from 433, in Alaska, to 61,737, in Florida, which has always been HealthCare.gov’s strongest market.
The special enrollment period has led to especially strong signup increases in Georgia and South Carolina.
The number of signups increased to 16,636 in Georgia, from 3,926, and to 6,104, from 1,330, in South Carolina.
The Biden Statement
Biden said access to health care is a right, not a privilege.
“Ensuring that every single American has access to the quality, affordable health care they need is a national imperative,” Biden said. “Never has that been more important than today, in the midst of a deadly pandemic that has infected nearly 30 million Americans.”
Biden called the early signup figures encouraging.
“But we can’t slow down until every American has the security and peace of mind that quality, affordable health coverage provides,” Biden said.
People who need coverage should sign up on HealthCare.gov, and people who already have coverage should consider helping family members and friends who are uninsured sign up for coverage, Biden said.