One million people have signed up for Affordable Care Act coverage on the federal exchange during the special enrollment period that President Joe Biden launched in mid-February, the administration announced Tuesday.
“Since it became law more than a decade ago, the Affordable Care Act has been a lifeline for millions of Americans. The pandemic has demonstrated how badly it is needed, and how critical it is that we continue to improve upon it,” Biden said. “Through this opportunity for special enrollment, we have made enormous progress in expanding access to health insurance.”
Sign-ups are open through August 15.
Typically, enrollment during the year is limited to those losing job-based policies and experiencing other major life events, such as divorce. Former President Donald Trump refused to relax access last spring in the face of the Covid pandemic.
The 14 states – and the District of Columbia – that run their own exchanges have also reopened enrollment, though the duration varies.
New and existing consumers who visit the exchanges can take advantage of enhanced premium subsidies that were part of the Democrats’ $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, which Biden signed into law in March. The more generous assistance, which lasts for two years, has reduced monthly premiums by more than 40% – from $100 to $57, on average, according to the administration.
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Under the American Rescue Plan, enrollees pay no more than 8.5% of their income toward coverage, down from nearly 10%. And lower-income policyholders 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 eligible for help for the first time.
The larger subsidies are enabling customers to sign up for plans with more generous benefits and lower out-of-pocket costs and deductibles.
The American Families Plan, which Biden unveiled in late April, seeks to make the enhanced subsidies permanent.