Obamacare enrollment reopens for Americans in need of coverage amid pandemic

Reporter: Veronica Marshall Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:
This screen grab from the website shows the main web page for the HealthCare.gov. (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services via AP, File)

The federal health insurance marketplace, Healthcare.gov, reopened Monday for a special enrollment period that will run through mid-May as part of efforts by President Biden to ensure that Americans in need of insurance coverage during the coronavirus pandemic have access to health care.

“Health care is a right, not a privilege — and I will do everything in my power to ensure that all Americans have access to the quality, affordable health care they deserve,” Biden said in a statement. “That is especially critical in the midst of a deadly pandemic that has already taken the lives of more than 470,000 of our fellow Americans and infected more than one out of every 12 additional Americans, often with devastating consequences to their health.”

Some Americans may be looking into these plans for the first time due to the pandemic. Nearly 15 million people qualify for benefits and nin million qualify for financial assistance to help pay for premiums.

The special enrollment period, which extends to May 15, allows Americans in need of health insurance to sign up for coverage through Healthcare.gov. Biden signed an executive order in late January allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to establish the special enrollment period for uninsured and underinsured Americans to seek coverage through the federal marketplace in light of the “exceptional circumstances” caused by the pandemic.

“We will get through this crisis if we look out for one another and work together to expand coverage, lower costs and ensure that health care truly is a right for all Americans,” the President said.

Biden vowed during the 2020 presidential campaign to preserve and expand the Affordable Care Act, which he helped shepherd through Congress while serving as vice president. In addition to the special enrollment period, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced Friday it is launching an education campaign that begins today focusing on increasing awareness of the added time to sign up for coverage, as well as the assistance available to those who qualify to pay for premiums.

“President Biden was clear: we need to strengthen the Affordable Care Act and give more Americans access to health care, especially during this pandemic, which has further demonstrated the importance of having the right coverage,” Health and Human Services Acting Secretary Norris Cochran said in a statement.

Victor Claar at Florida Gulf Coast University is the Program Coordinator for the finance department and an associate professor of economics.

“Those are high deductible plans, but when you look at cost and benefits, getting medical insurance of any kind at zero-dollar cost to you or heavily subsidized – it’s totally worth it,” he said. “And in the state of Florida, there might be a half-million people who are like that – qualify for free coverage under Medicaid, but they don’t even know it, and they haven’t gone on to the exchange to find out.”

Groups such as “The Health Planning Council of Southwest Florida” and “Covering Florida” can help you figure out what plan is best for you, or if you qualify for any subsidies.

Again, this special enrollment period ends on May 15. But, you chasing up at ay time if certain life events apply to you such s getting married, moving or losing your job.

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