While waiting for a briefing on Covid-19, it is worth remembering how many people have gone through a pandemic year without health insurance: probably at least 28.9 million.
The number of people without health insurance increased during the Trump presidency and increased by experts, with millions added to the ranks of the uninsured as the pandemic resulted in unprecedented job losses. A plurality of Americans depend on private health insurance through an employer.
Now, Biden is keeping one of his campaign promises, to remove barriers to accessing health insurance. It achieves this in particular by reopening a health insurance market for people affected by the pandemic.
To do this, Biden will use a health insurance bill he helped pass under the Obama administration, the Affordable Care Act better known as Obamacare.
WASHINGTON (AP) Keeping an election promise, President Joe Biden plans to reopen the HealthCare.gov insurance markets for a special enrollment opportunity for people in need of coverage in the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden is expected to sign a decree on Thursdaysaid two people familiar with the plan, details of which were still being finalized. They spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to discuss the pending order before an official announcement.
Although the number of uninsured Americans has risen due to job losses due to the Covid-19 economic crisis, the Trump administration has resisted calls to allow a “special enrollment period” for people uninsured in the pandemic. Failure to repeal and replace “Obamacare” as he has repeatedly promised was one of former President Donald Trump’s bitterest disappointments. His administration continued to try to find ways to limit the program or untangle it entirely. A Supreme Court ruling on Trump’s final court challenge to the Affordable Care Act is expected this year.
The White House has not commented on Biden’s expected order, but the two people familiar with the plan said the new listing period will not go into effect immediately. Instead, the White House wants to give the Department of Health and Human Services time to mount a marketing campaign and insurers to prepare for an influx of new customers.
The Obama-era health care law covers more than 23 million people through a mix of subsidized private insurance sold in all states, and expanded Medicaid adopted by 38 states, with the southern states being the major exception. Coverage is available for people who do not have employment-based health insurance, with the Medicaid extension aimed at those on low incomes.
Biden’s order would directly affect HealthCare.gov, the federal insurance market currently serving 36 states. The market concluded a successful annual registration season in December, with registrations for 2021 increasing by around 7%. Final figures for this year which include insurance markets directly managed by states will be available soon.
Opening up insurance markets is also likely to lead to an increase in Medicaid enrollments, as people who qualify for this program are automatically referred.
The special enrollment opportunity is just a down payment on health insurance for Biden, who has vowed to use former President Barack Obama’s health care law to push the United States toward a coverage for all. For that, he would need congressional approval, and opposition to the health care bill still runs deep among Republicans.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki reported on Tuesday that Biden is also considering limiting or reversing actions by the Trump administration that allowed states to impose work requirements on able-bodied low-income adults. as a condition for obtaining Medicaid. These rules are seen as a way to remove program rolls.
“President Biden does not think, in principle, that it should be difficult … for people to access health care,” she said. “He was not in the past, and is not in favor today, to put in place additional restrictions.”
Of the approximately 28 million Americans uninsured before the pandemic, according to non-partisan estimates from the Kaiser Family Foundation, more than 16 million were eligible for some form of subsidized coverage through the Health Act.
Experts agree that the number of uninsured people has increased due to layoffs, possibly 5 to 10 million, but authoritative estimates await government studies due later this year.
Biden’s expected order was first reported by the Washington Post.