More than 2 million Americans have signed up for health coverage via the Obamacare marketplaces during a special enrollment period that started in February, the Biden administration said Wednesday. The ongoing enrollment increases have lifted the total number of Americans covered by Obamacare plans to a record high, Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services administrator, told reporters. The final numbers are not yet available, but the previous high, set in 2016, was 12.7 million people.
Health officials said that since February, 1.5 million Americans have signed up for Obamacare plans on HealthCare.gov and another 600,000 enrolled in coverage through the 15 state-based marketplaces. The special enrollment period runs through August 15.
Enrollment in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program also reached a new high in February, with 81 million Americans covered by those programs. Nearly 10.4 million people enrolled between February 2020 and February 2021, a 14.7% increase.
Why it matters: The surge in enrollment reflects both the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which cost millions of Americans their jobs and employer-based coverage, and legislative changes made this year that sharply lowered the price of insurance for the vast majority of people signing up on the exchanges.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said that, after the Rescue Plan’s more generous subsidies were introduced in April, the average premium for people selecting new plans fell by 25%. People returning to the Obamacare marketplace since April have lowered their net monthly premiums by an average 40%. "The American Rescue Plan has made health coverage more affordable and accessible than ever – and people are signing up,” Brooks-LaSure said.