photograph of a nurse and an older man touching elbows

CMS Releases 2021 Marketplace Special Enrollment Period Report

CMS report shows that over 500,000 Americans signed up for health insurance from the start of the 2021 Marketplace Special Enrollment Period through March 31, 2021.

photograph of a nurse and an older man touching elbows

April 12, 2021 – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the 2021 Marketplace Special Enrollment Period Report (SEP). CMS reports that over 528,000 Americans in HealthCare.gov States signed up for health insurance during the SEP through March 31, 2021. Approximately 322,000 of these sign-ups occurred during the month of March.

These numbers in the Special Enrollment Period show a staggering increase from 2019 and 2020. For context, those numbers during the same period were 171,000 and 209,000, respectively. Since the Biden Administration opened up a Special Enrollment Period to all Americans due to COVID-19, this increase is not unexpected. In prior years, SEP was only available to consumers with qualifying life events.

Biden Administration Touts Special Enrollment Period

The Biden Administration has made access to health care a priority. There is not only a new focus on healthcare equality, but also on access to affordable health insurance for all Americans.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said, “The Biden Administration is committed to bringing down health care costs for families. Consumers can save money by visiting HealthCare.gov and choosing a plan that works for them and their budget. HHS will be reaching out to encourage Americans to use the Special Enrollment Period to sign up for quality, affordable coverage through HealthCare.gov.”

More Diverse Enrollees in 2021 SEP

In addition to the increased enrollment numbers, data also suggests that a more diverse set of Americans are enrolling in health insurance coverage during this SEP. 17% of enrollees identified as Black during the 2021 Special Enrollment Period, as compared to 11% during the same period in 2019 and 2020.

The data also shows that lower-income Americans represent a larger percentage of new enrollees compared to prior years. When examining consumers applying for financial assistance, in 2019 and 2020, 33% and 38% had a household income between 100% and 138% of the federal poverty level, respectively. In 2021, that number rose to 41%.

Ongoing HHS & CMS SEP Initiatives

The Special Enrollment Period will last for another four months and enrollment numbers are expected to increase. HHS recently announced that they would be spending $50 million in advertising to enhance the Special Enrollment Period outreach campaign.

In addition, CMS launched an education initiative of their own to raise awareness amongst the uninsured population. They will be educating consumers about new savings and the advanced premium tax credits that make health insurance plans on the marketplace even more affordable.

With these ongoing initiatives, the number of Americans signing up for affordable health insurance during the 2021 Special Enrollment Period is only expected to increase.

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The VBP Blog is a comprehensive resource for all things related to value-based payments. Up-to-date news, informative webinars, and relevant blogs in the VBP sphere to help your organization find success.