Federal health insurance options helped prevent major coverage losses

Nov. 2, 2021

A new report released from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows that Medicaid and health insurance from the federal Marketplace helped to prevent major coverage losses in 2020-2021 despite downward economic pressures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

HHS’s analysis showed that the 2021 Special Enrollment Period helped ensure healthcare for Americans remained in reach, according to an HHS press release. The current Open Enrollment period is being extended to January 15, 2022.

The report, conducted by researchers at HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), details how the COVID-19 pandemic impacted data collection in the United States during 2020-2021.

To better understand how the nation’s uninsured rate remained the same during the pandemic, the ASPE report analyzed administrative data on Medicaid and Marketplace enrollment between 2020-2021. ASPE’s findings suggest that increases in Medicaid and Marketplace enrollment helped to offset decreases in employer sponsored coverage stemming from pandemic-related economic downturn. 

According to the HHS release, safety net programs like Medicaid, which enrolled around 10 million individuals during the pandemic, and efforts such as the 2021 Special Enrollment Period, which netted another 2.8 million in new coverage gains, helped to stabilize health coverage during the pandemic. However, federal surveys also indicate continuing disparities in coverage among Black and Latino individuals, lower-income families, and people living in Medicaid non-expansion states.

HHS press release