That’s well over double the number who turned to the exchange in the same period over the past two years, when enrollment was limited to those losing job-based policies and experiencing other major life events, such as divorce.
Another 257,000 people seeking coverage during the special enrollment period were found to be eligible for Medicaid.
To raise awareness among the uninsured, the administration is spending $100 million in marketing, including broadcast and digital advertising and email and text messages. It is funneling $2.3 million to 30 organizations that assist consumers in enrolling. And it is partnering with national groups to increase outreach, including to the Black and Latino communities, which have higher uninsured rates.
The 14 states, and the District of Columbia, that run their own exchanges have also reopened enrollment, though the duration varies.
Accessing federal help to buy coverage
Also, the larger subsidies are enabling customers to sign up for plans with more generous benefits and lower out-of-pocket costs. The typical deductible for new consumers fell by nearly 90% to $50, from $450 for those selecting policies prior to April 1. Many of them likely have lower incomes and are eligible for additional cost-sharing subsidies.
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.
Those who don’t return will receive the enhanced subsidies as a refund at tax time next year.
Also, those who are receiving or have collected unemployment benefits in 2021 should be able to sign up for the $0 premium coverage called for in the stimulus plan in early July, HHS said. They may qualify now for zero- or low-cost policies based on their income.
Biden has moved swiftly on less controversial measures, including bolstering the Affordable Care Act. But he has yet to take action on his more significant campaign promises, such as reducing Medicare’s eligibility age, adding dental, vision and hearing benefits to the program and allowing the federal government to negotiate drug prices.
The push has won the support of party leaders, though it still faces many challenges to making it into the recovery legislation, much less becoming law.