More than 200,000 Americans have signed up for healthcare through the Affordable Care Act marketplace within the first two weeks of a special three-month enrolment period during the coronavirus pandemic.
Joe Biden re-opened the federal health insurance marketplace to uninsured Americans from 15 February through 15 May.
Federal health officials said the number of new enrolments from 15 February through 28 February is three times higher than the number of enrolments within the same time period over the last two years.
The figures represent an “increase from 76,000 and 60,000 consumers signing up for health insurance during the same period in 2020 and 2019, respectively,” according to the Centres for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
“These numbers are an encouraging sign – but we can’t slow down until every American has the security and peace of mind that quality, affordable health coverage provides,” the president said in a statement.
During Donald Trump’s administration, the typical enrolment season for the ACA marketplace – where qualifying Americans can choose from government-regulated health plans offered by insurers – was within a six-week period at the end of each year. Otherwise, Americans can only access the marketplace if they have experienced a significant live event, including unemployment, the birth of a child or if they have moved to another state and no longer qualify for their state-specific plan.
Health officials urged Mr Trump to open the marketplace as millions of Americans lost their employer-supported health insurance plans after mass layoffs in the wake of the economic fallout from the public health crisis.
Nearly 15 million Americans lost employer-sponsored health insurance plans by October 2020, according to a report from the Commonwealth Fund. That includes roughly 7.7 million people who lost their jobs along with employer-backed health plans, and the 6.9 million family members and dependents who relied on that person’s care plan for their health coverage.
Following his inauguration, Mr Biden issued an executive order to temporarily reopen the government’s insurance marketplace.
According to the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services, more than 385,000 people requested coverage on a submitted application and more than 54,000 were deemed eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program,