President Biden is reopening enrollment for federally subsidized health insurance policies under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act for three months, giving Kentuckians another chance to get help from a program that has had decreasing participation in the state in recent years.
Open enrollment for “Obamacare” policies is usually from Nov. 1 to mid-December. Biden’s executive order will open it from Feb. 15 through May 15, a White House briefing paper says.
“The actions represent the first steps the new administration is taking to fulfill a major part of the president’s campaign agenda to make health insurance and health care more accessible and affordable — goals that have taken on more urgency as 25 million have been infected with the coronavirus and millions of others have lost jobs,” reports The Washington Post‘s Amy Goldstein.
The Biden administration will also resume federal aid to states “for paid advertising, other outreach efforts and community groups that help people figure out how to sign up,” Goldstein reports. “The Trump administration, during its first two years, slashed most of the funding for such efforts, saying there was no evidence they were effective.”
In recent years, enrollment for subsidized plans in Kentucky has declined, from about 90,000 to 77,821 in the last enrollment period, which ended Dec. 21. The previous year, enrollment totaled 83,139. Nationally, enrollment remained about the same, though New Jersey and Pennsylvania left the federal exchange and started their own exchanges.
In Kentucky, Gov. Andy Beshear has said he will re-establish the state-based exchange, Kynect, that his father, then-Gov. Steve Beshear, established when he embraced the ACA.
The Trump administration had decided not to extend or reopen enrollment, “citing concerns that an influx of sicker enrollees with greater health needs might lead to premium increases,” reports The Commonwealth Fund, a health-care research foundation. “But the experiences of state-based marketplaces that have instituted special enrollment periods suggest that concern isn’t warranted. . . . In 2020, most state marketplaces allowed people who missed the regular sign-up period to get marketplace coverage during special enrollment periods, a nd preliminary data show that those states that invested in marketing and consumer assistance had greater shares of young adult enrollees — the type of individuals who are likely to be healthier and less costly to insurers.”