WASHINGTON — Millions of Americans who have lost their health insurance in an economy shaken by the coronavirus pandemic may enroll in taxpayer-subsidized coverage starting Sunday.
This is not a new government COVID-19 relief program, but the return of the annual enrollment season under the Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare.” Registration lasts until December 15.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs HealthCare.gov, say premiums have dropped slightly on average by 2021 and most people will have at least three insurers to choose plans from.
Step by step: how would obamacare cancellation affect your pocket
Biden, Trump and Medicare: what are their
proposals Low-income people and even middle-class families can qualify for tax credits that can greatly reduce what they pay monthly for the premiums.
But President Donald Trump, relentless in his opposition to President Barack Obamas characteristic national program, is calling on the Supreme Court to repeal the entire law.
Trump has been promising a much better replacement since before taking office, but he has never released his plan. Judges are scheduled to hear the case on November 10, and the administration is doing little to promote enrollments, having previously cut the advertising budget of the program.
“ Affordable health coverage is more essential than ever during the pandemic,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, who urges people to sign up even if Trump continues to try to end the law.
Specific figures are not available on how job losses related to the virus have affected health coverage because the most reliable government surveys will not be available until next year. Estimates range from 5 to 10 million people without health insurance. That adds up to the 26 million who did not have insurance last year, before the pandemic, or about 8% of the US population.
“ A coverage crisis is happening,” said Stan Dorn, a health policy expert who now works with Families USA, a liberal advocacy group. “And fewer resources are available to help, thanks to Trumps cuts.”
Dorn is concerned that it is “a setup for epic failure,” and many people will remain uninsured even when states across the country are seeing alarming increases in coronavirus cases.
Administration officials say HealthCare.gov is open to the public and ready to handle records online or through your call center. “We will work over the next open enrollment period… to ensure a smooth user experience,” said the CMS administrator, Seema Verma.
Currently, more than 11 million people are covered through HealthCare.gov and the state health insurance markets that offer subsidized private plans. The health law also covers another 12 million people through its Medicaid expansion, adopted by all states but 12.
Medicaid enrollment has increased by nearly 4 million people since March, but it is still unclear how many fired workers are dealing with the loss of employer coverage in the coronavirus economy.
Those who are healthy probably have other priorities, such as finding another job. Workers who were suspended but not dismissed,they may have been able to maintain their coverage. Some appear to have switched to a spouses plan, and those over 65 can enroll in Medicare.