Record 16.3 Million Seek Health Coverage Through ‘Obamacare’

WASHINGTON (AP) — A record 16.3 million people sought health insurance through the Affordable Care Act this year, double the number covered when the marketplaces first launched nearly a decade ago, the Biden administration announced Wednesday.

More than 3 million new members joined the marketplace, also known as “Obamacare,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The government worked with nonprofit groups and invested in program specialists who helped to sign people up in low-income, immigrant, Black and Latino communities to enroll more people, said Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“We made unprecedented investments to expand our enrollment organization footprint into nearly every county in the country and targeted the hardest to reach communities,” she said.

The boost in enrollment comes as the number of uninsured people is at an all-time low — just 8% of those in the United States remain without coverage.

President Joe Biden and a Democratic-led Congress have committed millions of dollars over the past two years into unlocking low-cost insurance plans for more people and prohibiting states from kicking people off Medicaid during the COVID-19 pandemic. The marketplace itself has also evolved in recent years, with more insurers joining, giving an overwhelming majority of Americans at least three plans to consider during enrollment.

Those breaks on coverages were extended through 2025 under a major climate and health care bill championed by Democrats last year.

The low-cost plans, which offer zero dollar-premiums for some entering the marketplace, have reversed what was a flat market for the Obama-era health law, said Massey Whorley, a principal at health consulting firm Avalere.

“To have this level of continued increase is really interesting,” Whorley said. “We were in a position several years ago where overall exchange enrollment was flat and declining so many people thought the exchanges were this stable but dwindling environment.”

The significant progress on lowering the uninsured rate across the country, however, is threatened this year. Millions of people expected to lose their Medicaid coverage starting this spring when states will begin the process of removing people who are no longer eligible, in many cases because their income is now too high to qualify.

A portion of those people are expected to transition from Medicaid to the marketplace, and the administration said it is spending $12 million to keep information specialists on the job in the coming months to help people enroll in the health law’s marketplace if they lose Medicaid coverage.

Some who have had Medicaid coverage over the past few years will decide they can spare a few dollars every month to keep coverage through the health law’s marketplace, Whorley said. Others might decide they cannot afford coverage that often has higher co-payments, deductibles and monthly premiums than Medicaid.

“They will have to make real choices,” Whorley said. “If you’re already struggling to make rent and pay your utilities, put gas in your car, put food on the table, you may just not be in a position.”

Total: All Marketplaces 16,306,448
New Consumers 3,603,067
Returning Consumers[2] 12,703,381
Total Marketplaces 12,203,622
New Consumers 3,000,155
Returning Consumers 9,203,467
Total SBMs[3] 4,102,826
New Consumers 602,912
Returning Consumers 3,499,914
2023 Marketplace Open Enrollment Period Plan Selections by State*


State Platform Cumulative 2023 OEP Plan Selections
Alaska 25,572
Alabama 258,327
Arkansas 100,407
Arizona 235,229
California SBM  1,719,130
Colorado SBM  199,391
Connecticut SBM  108,132
Delaware 34,742
District of Columbia SBM 14,504
Florida 3,225,435
Georgia 879,084
Hawaii 21,645
Idaho SBM 79,927
Iowa 82,704
Illinois 342,995
Indiana 185,354
Kansas 124,473
Kentucky SBM 62,562
Louisiana 120,804
Maine SBM  63,388
Maryland SBM  182,166
Massachusetts SBM  224,934
Michigan 322,273
Minnesota SBM 118,431
Missouri 257,629
Mississippi 183,478
Montana 53,860
North Carolina 800,850
North Dakota 34,130
Nebraska 101,490
Nevada SBM 95,930
New Hampshire 54,557
New Jersey SBM  325,534
New Mexico SBM  40,689
New York SBM  212,580
Ohio 294,644
Oklahoma 203,157
Oregon 141,963
Pennsylvania SBM  371,516
Rhode Island SBM  27,977
South Carolina 382,968
South Dakota 47,591
Tennessee 348,097
Texas 2,410,810
Utah 295,196
Vermont SBM 25,664
Virginia 346,140
Washington SBM 230,371
Wisconsin 221,128
West Virginia 28,325
Wyoming 38,565

* As of this report’s reporting deadline, Massachusetts’ OEP remained open with a January 23, 2023 deadline and 5 SBMs (California, the District of Columbia, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island) remained open with a January 31, 2023 deadline.