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More than 200,000 take advantage of ACA special enrollment period

Another 54,000 were deemed eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program, according to CMS. 

Susan Morse, Managing Editor

During the first two weeks of the special enrollment period for the Affordable Care Act, more than 200,000 people signed up for coverage.

The special enrollment began on February 15 and will end on May 15.

For the first two weeks, between Monday, February 15, and Sunday, February 28, 206,236 people made new plan selections. New plan selections are a count of unique consumers who didn't have an active marketplace plan as of February 14 and made a plan selection on or after February 15.
 
A total of 385,864 people requested coverage on a submitted application and 54,434 were deemed eligible for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program, according to the figures released by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. 

Those figures compare to the more than 818,000 consumers who selected plans using HealthCare.gov during the first week of regular enrollment, between Sunday, November 1, 2020, and Saturday, November 7, 2020.

But it is an increase from previous special enrollment periods, when consumers could sign up only if they had a qualifying life event, such as a move. In 2020 and 2019, respectively, 76,000 and 60,000 consumers signed up.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Getting more consumers covered means less uncompensated care for hospitals.

The Biden Administration opened a special enrollment period to all Americans in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

This functions to give consumers who lost their employer-based insurance an opportunity to get a health plan or to qualify for Medicaid coverage.

CMS had no information about how many of those selecting new plans had lost their jobs and employer-based coverage due to the pandemic. 

The agency said it plans to release a report on new plan selections for each month of the 2021 special enrollment period. 
 
THE LARGER TREND

President Joe Biden, unlike his Republican predecessor Donald Trump, supports the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law when he was vice president to President Barack Obama.

During his campaign, Biden promised to strengthen the ACA and offer a public health insurance option.

After Biden's election, the Department of Justice shifted its stance on the legality of the ACA before the Supreme Court. A decision is expected to be handed up before June.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse
Email the writer: susan.morse@himssmedia.com