New Report: Federal Health Insurance Options Helped Prevent Major Coverage Losses
Ahead of the November 1, 2021 start of the Open Enrollment Period at Healthcare.gov, a new report released from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows that Medicaid and health insurance from the federal Marketplace helped to prevent major coverage losses in 2020-2021 despite downward economic pressures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. HHS’s analysis showed that efforts taken by the Biden-Harris Administration, such as the 2021 Special Enrollment Period, helped ensure health care for Americans remained in reach.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our lives in many ways, yet today’s report shows we made significant strides to protect Americans’ health,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Thanks to the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to secure access to critical health care, over 2.8 million Americans gained coverage during the Special Enrollment Period. We will double down on these gains by launching Open Enrollment season on Monday with the most affordable health coverage options to date.”
“Thanks to the American Rescue Plan, health care coverage is more affordable and accessible than ever. This Open Enrollment, consumers will have access to more affordable plan options, with more help, for an even longer period of time,” said Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “I urge individuals and families in need to sign up today at HealthCare.gov for comprehensive, affordable health care coverage for themselves and their loved ones.”
The report, conducted by researchers at HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), details how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted data collection in the United States during 2020-2021. To better understand how the nation’s uninsured rate remained the same during the pandemic, the ASPE report analyzed administrative data on Medicaid and Marketplace enrollment between 2020-2021. ASPE’s findings suggest that increases in Medicaid and Marketplace enrollment helped to offset decreases in employer sponsored coverage stemming from pandemic-related economic downturn.
In other words, safety net programs like Medicaid, which enrolled around 10 million individuals during the pandemic, and efforts such as the 2021 Special Enrollment Period, which netted another 2.8 million in new coverage gains, helped to stabilize health coverage during the pandemic. However, federal surveys also indicate continuing disparities in coverage among Black and Latino individuals, lower-income families, and people living in Medicaid non-expansion states. Addressing such disparities is a top priority for the Biden-Harris Administration.
This year, thanks to the American Rescue Plan and enhanced tax credits, people shopping for health insurance through the Marketplaces will find the widest variety of options at the lowest prices ever. They will also benefit from a longer period to shop for coverage with the Open Enrollment deadline being extended to January 15, 2022. Open Enrollment will launch with four times as many Navigators than last season, with around 1,500 Navigators available for consumers who use HealthCare.gov.
The Administration is also making record investments and employing a robust local strategy to reach the remaining uninsured and help reduce disparities in coverage. These efforts include launching an advertising campaign to spread word about Open Enrollment. For the first time, these advertisements will be available in an expanded number of languages including Hindi, Korean and more. CMS is quadrupling the number of Navigators available to help consumers sign up for coverage, and re-launching the “Champions for Coverage” program, which will enlist over 2,000 local organizations to support outreach and public education efforts and help enroll individuals in coverage.
To find the ASPE report, visit: https://aspe.hhs.gov/reports/tracking-health-insurance-coverage
To find out more and get ready for the 2022 Open Enrollment period, visit HealthCare.gov or your state’s Marketplace website.