WXMI — For those who didn’t sign up for healthcare during the fall open enrollment period, or lost their private insurance during the pandemic, the federal government is opening a special enrollment period through the middle of May.
From February 15th – May 15th the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, is accepting enrollments. With mass job loss, the federal marketplace saw a 2% rise in Michigan enrollees in the fall, and around 4% nationally. It’s an encouraging number, but still leaves thousands uninsured during a pandemic.
“It was reported early-pandemic there was about a 46% increase in the number of uninsured Michiganders, which is about 834,000 people,” said Ryan Bartholomew a health policy analyst with University of Michigan. “Just being hospitalized for COVID-19 can cause tens of thousands of dollars and having health insurance can be what prevents individuals and families from going bankrupt.”
President Biden’s administration reopened enrollment via an executive order signed last week. The Trump administration had refused to open a special sign up period, even after urging from health officials.
Trump’s efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act without offering a replacement during his time in office resulted in an increase in prices beginning in 2017, and Bartholomew says they’ve been steadily dropping ever since as markets adjust.
If you're uninsured, Carrie Kincaid, Vice President of Individual Markets for Priority Health says it’s a good time to look around.
“9-in-10 Michiganders qualify for additional support and subsidy through the exchange,” she said, “so when they go out into the marketplace they will get help paying for their premiums.”
Plus you could qualify for the Healthy Michigan program or Medicaid expansions.
Biden also took steps to revive an advertising budget for the ACA after it was slashed by the previous administration. That will also allot money for enrollment navigators – people who assist lower income residents with signing up, especially in areas with little or no internet access.
The enrollment period is available in the 36 other states that participate in the Affordable Care Act.
“Anything that is done that would extend access to affordable healthcare coverage is always good in our minds,” said Kincaid.