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Nearly 9 Million Uninsured Americans Could Get Free or Subsidized Health Insurance if the Biden Administration Re-Opens ACA Marketplace Enrollment in Response to COVID-19

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Four million uninsured people could get an ACA bronze plan with no premium payment and 4.9 million others could get subsidies to offset the cost of such a plan if the Biden Administration were to re-open ACA marketplace enrollment, a KFF analysis finds.

Four million uninsured people could get an ACA bronze plan with no premium payment and 4.9 million others could get subsidies to offset the cost of such a plan if the Biden Administration were to re-open ACA marketplace enrollment, a KFF analysis finds.

The 8.9 million people eligible for free or reduced-cost coverage represent nearly 60 percent of the approximately 15 million uninsured people in the U.S. who could shop for health insurance coverage on the ACA Marketplaces, the analysis finds. Compared to the general non-elderly population, the uninsured people in these categories are more likely to be young adults aged 19 to 34, Hispanic, non-native English speakers, lacking internet access, high-school educated and working in service industries such as arts, entertainment and recreation.

Those eligible for free bronze plans also are more likely than the general non-elderly population to be unemployed or working part-time, and to live in rural areas. More than half of them live in Texas, Florida, North Carolina, or Georgia.

Free or reduced-cost bronze ACA plans generally carry steep deductibles, requiring policy holders to pay thousands of dollars for care out of pocket before coverage kicks in. However, the analysis finds that about 2 of every 3 uninsured people who are eligible for a free ACA bronze plan have household incomes low enough to be eligible for significantly lower deductibles if they purchase a more expensive silver plan instead.

Based on campaign pledges, President Biden is expected to move towards reopening Marketplace enrollment as soon as this week, for example by announcing a COVID-19 special enrollment opportunity (SEP). His administration is also expected to direct more resources to marketing and outreach, following several years in which the Trump administration pared back spending on such efforts.

The findings of the new analysis can inform government agencies or navigators engaged in outreach and marketing efforts. Uninsured people who are eligible for subsidies to buy Marketplace plans may be unaware of their options or need help understanding the tradeoffs.

KFF researchers estimate that more than $1 billion in unspent federal user fee revenue has accumulated that could be used by the new administration to invest in changes that would make it easier for consumers to enroll in health coverage.

For more data and analyses related to the ACA Marketplace and COVID-19, visit kff.org.

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