WASHINGTON, DC – January 10, 2024 – In data released on January 10th by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), this year’s open enrollment for 2024 has resulted in about 20 million people signing up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. This is a new record for the third consecutive year. In 2020, just over 11 million people had enrolled in the health insurance marketplace. Last year, over 16 million people signed up. Open enrollment began on November 1st and ends on January 16th. The enrollment number will probably be much higher since it only represents activity through December 23rd.
The health insurance marketplace was created by the Affordable Care Act of 2010 during the Obama administration and is commonly referred to as ‘ObamaCare.’ The marketplace is also called health exchanges. They are run by each state and allow people to purchase health insurance. The health plans are government-regulated and standardized to improve their affordability and health coverage. They are offered by commercial insurers that participate in the exchange. There are more insurers this year than at any time since the program became operational in 2014.
The purpose of the marketplace is to narrow the coverage gap between Medicaid, the government-funded health insurance for the under-resourced, and employer-sponsored commercial health insurance for workers. Before the creation of the ACA marketplace, millions of Americans were without access to healthcare. Uninsured Americans generally have poorer health than insured Americans.
The surge in enrollees in the health insurance marketplaces over the past few years coincides with the Biden administration trying to reduce the number of uninsured Americans, increase access to health care, and help keep Americans healthier. The cost of the insurance plans has been subsidized by the COVID-19 relief bill of 2021 by lowering premiums and out-of-pocket costs. The subsidies have been extended through 2025 with the Climate and Health Care Bill in 2022.
In a statement on January 10th, President Biden said, “We must build upon this progress and make these lower health care premiums permanent.”
The Biden administration also increased efforts to get people to sign up. They worked with nonprofit organizations to encourage minority groups, mostly Black and Latino, to enroll. The administration earmarked almost 100 million dollars to increase hiring of navigators to help people enroll in the program.
Some of the new marketplace enrollees have lost their Medicaid coverage after the COVID emergency ended in 2023. Although open enrollment ends on January 16th, persons who have lost their Medicaid insurance may be eligible to sign-up through the end of July.
Xavier Becerra, the Health and Human Services Secretary, said in a statement, “More people with access to preventive care means a healthier country and lower health care costs across the board.”
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Contact: Dr. Dick Needleman, Health reporter, 103.3 AshevilleFM, firstname.lastname@example.org