Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for National Urban League
The Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces look set to break records for the number of Americans enrolled for the third year in a row.
More than 19 million people have signed up for insurance plans often called Obamacare, with three more weeks to sign up, federal health officials said Wednesday.
As of Dec. 15, HealthCare.gov, the online portal where people shop and buy plans in most states, had 745,000 people enrolled in plans. It was the portal’s biggest day since it opened a decade ago, health officials said.
“Four out of five people who shop can get a plan on a marketplace website for $10 or less a month,” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra tells NPR. “You can’t go see a movie for $10. Here’s a month of health care for $10 or less.”
The 19 million figure includes Americans who buy health insurance through state-specific marketplaces like CoveredCalifornia and people who live in the 33 states who use the federal marketplace. More than 15 million have already registered in these states, which is about 4 million more than this time last year.
Even if you live in a state with its own marketplace, HealthCare.gov is a good place to start if you need to buy insurance yourself. It will direct you to the state based exchange.
Despite high enrollment rates, approximately 25 million Americans still do not have health insurance. Becerra noted that the number of uninsured Americans nearly doubled before the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010.
“If we had just about 10 states that still haven’t expanded Medicaid, which they were allowed to do under Obamacare, we would probably help reduce that 25 million number significantly,” Becerra says. “But some states still refuse to help their citizens get health insurance through Medicaid.”
Medicaid, the federal and state health insurance for low-income people, expanded to about 94 million Americans during the pandemic when states were not allowed to remove anyone. States have begun reassessing who should get coverage, and at least 12 million people have so far been left out. Some of them lose coverage due to paperwork errors.
Some of those kicked off Medicaid feel they qualify for good deals on healthcare.gov, but Becerra admits others are likely “falling through the cracks.”
“We need to get the states to help us make sure they’re not removing people from the coverage they’re entitled to under our programs, whether it’s Medicaid or Obamacare,” Becerra says.
While President Trump was in office, the number of people without health insurance increased as his administration limited enrollment times and cut funding to tell people about ACA coverage. Trump has said he would repeal the ACA if re-elected.
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