Registrations up, premiums down

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Consumers have until January 15 to purchase Obamacare health insurance plans for 2022. The Good Brigade / Getty Images
  • The registration period for the Affordable Care Act health insurance plans is open until January 15.
  • For coverage to begin January 1, consumers must register by December 15.
  • So far, nearly 4.6 million Americans have signed up for 2022 plans.
  • Experts say more grants are available this year and insurance premiums are lower.

With new consumer subsidies and in the wake of an $ 80 million marketing campaign to raise awareness, underwriting for individual health insurance coverage created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is growing at an impressive rate .

According to data from the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), nearly 4.6 million Americans purchased health insurance through Healthcare.gov or state insurance exchanges during this latest open enrollment period.

Of those 4.6 million, 20% are new registrants for 2022, while the remaining 80% have active coverage and return to renew their plans or select new ones, according to CMS officials.

“Today’s report is proof that our efforts are paying off,” said Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Social Services, in a press release. “Thanks to our unprecedented awareness campaigns and American Rescue Plan investments, millions of people across the country are receiving health insurance with lower premiums and more options than ever before. We will continue to work to cover more people during the remainder of the open registration period. “

There is a deadline of December 15th to obtain insurance coverage which begins on January 1st.

The open registration period, which began on November 1, has been extended for an additional 30 days this year. Those who register between December 16 and January 15 will see their health coverage begin on February 1.

In the short term, ACA health insurance plans, also known as Obamacare, are cheaper for the average consumer than before.

Experts attribute some of the tenets to the US bailout adopted in March 2021, which dramatically increased grants for more middle-income Americans.

“This law removed the income cap for grant eligibility in 2021 and 2022, and also increased grants for 2021 and 2022, reducing the percentage of income people have to pay to purchase the referral plan (second cheapest money plan), ”Louise Norris, licensed broker and analyst for healthinsurance.org, told Healthline. “All of this is still in effect for 2022, so people who shop now will tend to see larger grants than they saw during the open registration period last fall.”

The new law extends grants to ensure that no family spends more than 8.5 percent of their income on a referral plan.

According to CMS officials, this should represent a savings of $ 50 per person per month or $ 85 per policy per month. Plus, half of registrants should be able to get a Silver level plan for $ 10 or less per month.

And premiums are going down even before those changes are taken into account.

“The average premium for a 2022 benchmark ACA [plan] is about 3% lower than in 2021, so that’s good news, ”said Nathan Teater, director of sales at eHealth, a website that helps buyers compare health plans. “When you combine that with extending grant eligibility to more consumers, many ACA plan members will be paying less out of their own pockets for premiums next year.”

The additional grants in effect will expire on December 31, 2022, unless Congress approves President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan, which would extend these grants until 2025.

“The Build Back Better Act is still pending,” Norris said. “But if the version that was passed by the House is enacted, there will be further improvements in the availability and affordability of coverage.”

“The [president’s plan] would grant $ 0 referral plans to people receiving unemployment compensation in 2022 and also close the Medicaid coverage gap for the next several years by providing full grants and robust cost-sharing reductions to those stuck in it. coverage gap in 11 states that have by far refused to extend Medicaid under the ACA, ”she explained.

And plans may change depending on the evolution of COVID-19 in the United States as well.

“If – fingers crossed – the COVID pandemic finally starts to slow down in 2022, we might see changes in coverage as well,” Teater said. “At the onset of the pandemic, many insurers voluntarily extended coverage for COVID-related testing and treatment beyond the usual limits of their plans. In a recent survey of health insurance companies eHealth works with, we reported that 38% of insurers have already reduced, or are planning to reduce, these voluntarily extended benefits.


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