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Record number of people signing up for Obamacare

Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 8:56 AM MST
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(CNN) - A record number of people enrolled in the Affordable Care Act in 2021, and it looks like they are sticking with it in 2022.

“I’m just waiting for January 1,” Sarah Morley said.

Morley spent nearly two years without health insurance, but she enrolled in an Affordable Care Act plan after getting an $8,000 hospital bill that she is paying out of pocket.

New numbers released Wednesday show Affordable Care Act, aka “Obamacare,” enrollment for 2022 has hit a historic high with 13.6 million Americans already signed up for coverage.

The deadline is Jan. 15.

Since President Joe Biden took office, 4.6 million people have gained health insurance.

The American Rescue Plan pumped subsidies into the Affordable Care Act marketplace, lowering premiums for 90% of consumers and expanding access to an additional 3.6 million uninsured people, many of them middle-class.

More than 2.8 million Americans signed up during a special enrollment period earlier this year.

“It’s quite plausible that the subsidies could explain most of all of what we’re seeing,” said Matthew Fiedler with USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy.

The Biden administration also extended the current enrollment period for next year and reinstated millions of dollars of funding that the Trump administration cut for advertisements and navigators.

Jodi Ray’s team connects uninsured people with coverage in Florida.

“Probably one of the most contributing factors has got to be that we’re in a pandemic,” Ray said.

Florida leads the nation in Affordable Care Act enrollment.

A recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows public support for Obamacare at an all-time high.

About 58% have a favorable opinion, compared to 43% when Trump was elected.

“The long-term trend shows that the ACA has gained popularity over time,” said Kaiser Family Foundation vice president Cynthia Cox.

Roughly 27 million Americans are still uninsured, and 64% of them are eligible for coverage assistance.

The Build Back Better bill would extend those subsidies and expansions from the American Rescue Plan through 2025, but if the bill does not pass, those benefits could expire by the end of next year.

“Late in 2022, people are going to find out that their premium payments are going to double, and those announcements are going to go out right before the midterm elections,” Cox said.

For this year and next year, enrollees are paying no more than 8.5% of their income toward coverage.

Lower-income policyholders also receive subsidies that eliminate their premiums.

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