Rise in People Seeking HealthCare.gov Coverage, HHS Says

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Rise in People Seeking HealthCare.gov Coverage, HHS Says
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WASHINGTON — The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it is seeing a surge in new customers purchasing private health insurance for 2023 in the Affordable Care Act market.

Nearly 3.4 million people purchased coverage, an increase of 17% over the same period last year. The surge in listings comes as the number of uninsured Americans hit an all-time low of 8% this year.

“When you have a good product, people will buy it,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told The Associated Press.

More than 665,000 new people have purchased plans on the marketplace since open registration began on November 1.

HHS did not provide any demographic details about new enrollees, but Becerra said he hopes the agency reaches people in marginalized communities. Already this year, the market has seen huge gains in the number of blacks, Latinos and Native Americans seeking coverage.

Between 2020 and 2022, the number of Latino enrollees increased from 1.7 million to 2.6 million while 1.3 million black enrollees last year compared to 900,000 the previous year. The number of registered Indians has increased from 52,000 to 68,000.

“There’s a good chance we’ll continue to engage communities that had been left behind to sign up,” Becerra said.

The surge in enrollment is largely driven by generous subsidies — extended through 2025 in Democrats’ $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief act — that keep monthly premium payments at $0 or less. a few dollars a month for most people who sign up.

People can sign up for coverage on HealthCare.gov or through their state’s marketplace before Dec. 15 to get coverage that begins Jan. 1.

Experts will be watching to see if the ACA’s strong start to open enrollment continues over the coming weeks.

“This demonstrates very strong demand for health insurance,” said Massey Whorley, director of health consultancy Avalere. “Only time will tell if this is truly outsized significant growth, or if it is people taking action earlier in the open enrollment window.”

The record U.S. insurance rate could also be disrupted next year, when the government is expected to declare the end of the COVID-19 pandemic and kick millions of Medicaid recipients out of coverage. That could draw more people into the federal market in 2023, Whorley added.

“We’re going to be looking at a period of heavy flows,” Whorley said. “All of this indicates that more and more people are entering the exchange.”

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC.

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