For the third year in a row, ACA health insurance plans are seeing record signups

Secretary Xavier Becerra, US Department of Health and Human Services. Becerra announced Wednesday that his agency is seeing record enrollment numbers for Affordable Care Act health plans.

Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for the National Urban League


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Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for the National Urban League


Secretary Xavier Becerra, US Department of Health and Human Services. Becerra announced Wednesday that his agency is seeing record enrollment numbers for Affordable Care Act health plans.

Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for the National Urban League

The Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplaces appear set to break a record for the number of Americans enrolled, for the third year in a row.

More than 19 million people have signed up for insurance plans often called Obamacare, and there are still three weeks of enrollment, federal health officials said Wednesday.

As of December 15, HealthCare.gov, the online portal where people shop and buy plans in most states, had 745,000 people enrolled in plans. It was the biggest day for the portal since it opened a decade ago, health officials said.

“Four out of five people who shop around end up getting a plan on the marketplace website for $10 or less a month in premiums,” Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra tells NPR. “You can’t watch a movie for $10. Here’s a month of health care coverage for $10 or less.”

The 19 million number includes Americans who buy health insurance in state-based marketplaces like CoveredCalifornia, and people living in 33 states who use the federal marketplace. More than 15 million have signed up in those states, which is about 4 million more than this time last year.

Even if you live in a state that operates its own marketplace, HealthCare.gov is a good starting place if you need to buy insurance on your own. This will direct you to your state-based exchange.

Despite high enrollment rates, approximately 25 million Americans still lack health insurance. Becerra pointed out that the number of uninsured Americans nearly doubled before the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010.

“If we only had about ten states that still haven’t expanded their Medicaid, which they are eligible to do under the Obamacare law, we could probably help reduce that 25 million number,” said said Becerra. “But there are some states that still refuse to help their citizens get health insurance coverage through the Medicaid program.”

Medicaid, the federal and state health insurance for low-income people, has expanded to about 94 million Americans during the pandemic without allowing states to disenroll anyone. States have begun reevaluating who should get coverage and at least 12 million people have been taken off the rolls so far. Some of those lose coverage because of paperwork errors.

Some who have been kicked off Medicaid have found that they are eligible for good deals on healthcare.gov, but Becerra acknowledges that others are likely “falling through the cracks.”

“We need to have the states help us make sure that they don’t cut people off from coverage that they’re eligible for under the programs that we have, whether it’s Medicaid or Obamacare,” Becerra said.

While President Trump has been in office, the number of people without health insurance has increased as his administration has limited open enrollment hours and reduced funding to tell people about ACA insurance. Trump has said he would repeal the ACA if re-elected.

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