The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says more than 500,000 Americans have enrolled in health insurance through as a result of the Biden Administration’s Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The department added that this has been the largest increase in enrollment among Black consumers and among Americans near the poverty level in two years.

“Access to quality, affordable health care is essential – especially as we tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

“Since the beginning of this Special Enrollment Period’s availability on, more than 500,000 Americans have already signed up for coverage on Now, thanks to the American Rescue Plan, health care coverage is more affordable and millions of Americans are seeing their premiums reduced.”

“At HHS, we are going to build on the Affordable Care Act [ACA] and work tirelessly to ensure Americans have the chance to sign up for quality, affordable health care coverage that meets their needs.”

A report issued on Wednesday, April 7 from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), which covers plan selections from Feb. 15 to March 31, shows gains in enrollment among historically uninsured communities.

Of applicants who identified a race, 17 percent identified as Black – compared to about 11 percent in both 2020 and 2019 during the same period.

Among consumers requesting financial assistance, 41 percent report being at or slightly above the federal poverty level, compared to 38 percent in 2020 and 33 percent in 2019.

The HHS says nearly 15 million Americans who currently lack health insurance, and many current enrollees, are eligible to receive additional financial support in obtaining Marketplace coverage as part of the American Rescue Plan (ARP).

As of April, premiums are expected to decrease by an average of $50-per-person, per month – and $85-per-policy, per month due to the financial assistance available under the ARP.

An average of four out of five consumers currently enrolled in Marketplace coverage can now find a plan for $10 or less per month after financial assistance says the HHS.

The 2021 SEP is available to consumers in the 36 states with Marketplaces that use the platform through Aug. 15, 2021.

Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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