More than 20 million people have signed up for plans on the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces during the annual open enrollment period, far surpassing last year’s record of more than 16 million enrollments, the Biden administration announced on Wednesday.
The figures were a landmark moment for the 2010 health law, underscoring the significance of enhanced subsidies for Americans and the continuing reach of the marketplaces after years of Republican efforts to whittle them down.
“The marketplaces are getting stronger and more embedded into the fabric of U.S. health care,” said Adrianna McIntyre, a health policy expert at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “The more the marketplaces grow, the more it enhances their stability.”
The Biden administration revealed last month that on Dec. 15 — the deadline to sign up for coverage that began on Jan. 1 — almost 750,000 people signed up for a marketplace plan on HealthCare.gov, the largest single-day total. The full tally could grow in the coming days; the deadline to sign up for plans is 5 a.m. Eastern on Jan. 17, giving Americans coverage that begins next month.
“The Affordable Care Act is more popular than ever,” President Biden said in a statement.
The enrollees include people like Kennita Hickman, 39, who has several autoimmune disorders and was on the verge of losing her Medicaid coverage late last year because her income was too high to qualify for the government program. She found a lifeline in a free Obamacare plan, which has allowed her access to doctors and a therapist.
“I have three health conditions that I have to manage,” said Ms. Hickman, who owns a media company in Milwaukee. “Being without insurance is always scary.”