WASHINGTON — HealthCare.gov’s market for subsidized health plans reopens today for a special three-month sign-up window as the Democratic-led Congress pushes a boost in financial help that could cut premiums by double digits.
This enrollment period during the Coronavirus pandemic is an early test of President Joe Biden’s strategy to use the Affordable Care Act as a springboard toward health coverage for all. Advancing on a parallel track, the new COVID-19 relief bill from House Democrats would offer a generous, though temporary, increase in subsidies for people covered by the law known as “Obamacare.”
“It is a hugely important signaling move,” said Katherine Hempstead of the nonpartisan Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “The administration is doing more than having open enrollment here, they’re saying they want to make this coverage more affordable.”
While policy experts like Hempstead are taking note, it’s unclear how uninsured Americans will respond. Former President Barack Obama’s health law has been on the books over a decade, but surveys consistently show that many people lacking job-based insurance do not realize they may qualify. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that about 33 million people are uninsured this year.
At Foundation Communities, an Austin, Texas, nonprofit that serves low-income working people, program director Kori Hattemer says she’s seeing an uptick in interest.