Nov. 29, 2022 – Americans are enrolling in Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces for 2023 at what appears to be a record-setting pace as healthcare becomes less of a political football. According to a report from President Joe Biden and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, nearly 3.4 million people have enrolled in an ACA marketplace health plan since the start of open enrollment on Nov. 1 through Nov. 19, up nearly 40 percent from this time last year.
HHS reports that in 2022, a record 14.5 million people were covered under ACA plans, with premiums averaging 23 percent lower than 2021 premiums; 2023 is slated to exceed those enrollment numbers.
“Campaign messaging in the recent midterms suggests that the ACA is no longer as highly divisive a political issue as in prior election cycles. It’s a strong positive for our nation that there are fewer Americans without health insurance,” said Jon Bigelow, executive director of the Coalition for Healthcare Communication.
“For healthcare communicators, it is also notable that increased insurance enrollment expands the market of people who can afford to see healthcare providers – and fill prescriptions – for acute and chronic health issues,” he said.
Of the 3.4 million consumers enrolled so far for 2023 (open enrollment ends Jan. 15, 2023), roughly 19 percent are new enrollees and the remainder are returning consumers.
“Providing quality, affordable health care options remains a top priority. The numbers prove that our focus is in the right place. In the first weeks of Open Enrollment, we have seen an increase in plan selections and a significant increase in the number of new enrollees over the previous year,” Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure said in a Nov. 22 press release.
This uptick in enrollment comes at a time when many Americans are struggling with inflation and high premium increases in the commercial insurance market. It also follows the broadened income eligibility for subsidies and higher subsidies for qualifying patients enacted in 2022 as part of the American Rescue Plan in 2021, and the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, which extended higher subsidies and income thresholds for subsidies through 2025.
Additionally, increases in the number of consumers covered by ACA plans likely are influenced by stronger marketing support, additional funding for ACA marketplace “navigators” who help consumers connect with the right plan for their circumstances, and a fix for the “family glitch” that prevented individuals covered by their employers from accessing marketplace plans for their family members. Brooks-LaSure stated that removing this glitch could result in 1 million families benefiting from ACA coverage.