New HHS Data Shows 31 Million, More Americans than Ever, have Health Coverage through the Affordable Care Act

A new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) finds that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has significantly decreased the number of uninsured California residents.  As of February 2021, 1,583,781 California residents were enrolled in Marketplace coverage and according December 2020 data, 4,074,553 were newly eligible enrollees in Medicaid coverage thanks to the ACA. That totals to 5,658,334 California residents that gained access to health coverage. Furthermore, California’s uninsured rate fell from 17.2 percent in 2013 before the ACA to 7.7 percent as of 2019. California is one of seven states that have reduced their uninsured rate by at least half through enrollment in Marketplace coverage and expansion of Medicaid to adult populations.

National Numbers

Nationwide, over 31 million people are currently enrolled in health coverage through the Affordable Care Act – a record. That includes 11.3 million people enrolled in Marketplace plans as of February 2021, and 14.8 million newly eligible people enrolled in Medicaid due to the ACA’s expansion of eligibility to adults as of December 2020.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra released the following statement on Twitter  : “The historic numbers released today speak to the success of the Affordable Care Act and our country’s need for quality, affordable health care. The President’s American Rescue Plan was a leap forward, and we at HHS will continue to advance the fight for health security.”

There are also one million people enrolled in the ACA’s Basic Health Program, and nearly four million previously-eligible adult Medicaid enrollees who gained coverage under expansion due to the ACA’s enhanced outreach, streamlined applications, and increased federal funding under the ACA.

“Health care coverage is life-changing for our communities and families. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans have been able to enroll in high-quality, affordable coverage through the Marketplaces and Medicaid expansion,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “The Biden-Harris Administration is working to strengthen these vital programs that have advanced health equity and improved health outcomes. With the implementation of the American Rescue Plan, which builds on the ACA, health coverage is more affordable and accessible than ever. As we rebuild from the health and economic impacts of the pandemic and work to address the disparities it has illuminated, we’ll protect and build on the ACA to ensure Americans can access the care they need.”

The ASPE report additionally shows that between 2010 and 2016, the number of nonelderly uninsured adults decreased by 41 percent, falling from 48.2 million to 28.2 million. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have experienced reductions in their uninsured rates since the implementation of the ACA, with states that expanded Medicaid experiencing the largest reduction in their uninsured rate. To date, 37 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid to cover adults under the ACA.  

This report demonstrates the important role the ACA has played in helping Americans access and enroll in quality, affordable health coverage, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. With millions of Americans facing uncertainty and challenging circumstances throughout the pandemic, the Biden-Harris Administration opened HealthCare.gov for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to help Americans enroll in health insurance coverage. To date, more than 1 million new consumers have signed up for coverage through HealthCare.gov during the SEP since February 15.  Some states have also opened a special enrollment period through their State-Based Exchanges. As new Marketplace consumers activate their health plan coverage, ACA related enrollment will continue to climb through the end of the SEP on August 15.

Any California resident still needing health insurance coverage should visit HealthCare.gov by August 15 and where if available, they will be redirected to their State-based Exchanges to complete an application, review their options, and, if eligible enroll in coverage. Consumers can find local help at Localhelp.healthcare.gov or by calling the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325. Assistance is available in 150 languages. The call is free.

HealthCare.gov can also direct eligible consumers to Medicaid access in their state. Consumers can apply for Medicaid any time during the year.

The SEP is currently available to consumers in the 36 states with Marketplaces that use the HealthCare.gov platform in 2021. Consumers served by State-based Marketplaces that use their own platforms can check their state’s website to find out more information on Special Enrollment Periods in their state.

To read the ASPE Issue Brief, visit: https://aspe.hhs.gov/pdf-report/aca-related-coverage-ib

For more information about the Health Insurance Marketplace®, visit: https://www.healthcare.gov/quick-guide/getting-marketplace-health-insurance/

For more information about the Medicaid program, visit: https://www.healthcare.gov/medicaid-chip/getting-medicaid-chip/

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