More than two million people have signed up for health insurance through the marketplace since November 1.
“Across the country we’re seeing enthusiastic signups,” said Christen Linke Young, principal deputy director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, Department of Health and Human Services. “More people this year than last are coming through and signing up for health insurance.”
Since its inception, the Affordable Care Act has provided coverage for 20 million previously uninsured adults. The ACA has been particularly good for minorities. Before the ACA, minorities were heavily burdened by a health-care system that largely excluded them, as well as lower-income people.
That was especially troubling given the significant health disparities minorities face. African-American, Hispanic and Native-American moms have much higher rates of preterm birth than white moms. African Americans and Native Americans have higher rates of hypertension than their white counterparts. Hispanic women are 60 percent more likely to have cervical cancer and 30 percent more likely to die from the disease than white women.
The access to care the ACA provides has helped to ease some of these disparities. Now the uninsured rate for Hispanics has dropped by more than a quarter and by more than half for African Americans, according to HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell. Nearly 510,000 African Americans between the ages of 19 and 26 have coverage under their parents’ plans.
“Today, everyone’s coverage is better,” Burwell said on a conference call yesterday. In what is one of the act’s signature tenants, millions of Americans can now get preventive services—including flu shots, colonoscopies and well-woman visits—with no out-of-pocket expenses.
The law is also starting to bring health-care costs in line. “Overall health-care costs have been rising at the lowest rate in 50 years,” she said. “This law makes a real difference. It means healthier communities and brighter futures.”
Despite these gains, there are still more than 4 million minorities uninsured in this country, and the administration would like to change that. “For consumers who want and need coverage for 2017, my message is simple: Go to healthcare.gov and sign up,” Burwell said.
Consumers who wish to have coverage starting January 1 need to sign up by December 15, and they should keep these things in mind:
- Financial help is available to make the coverage more affordable. 85 percent of consumers are eligible for financial assistance.
- At healthcare.gov, consumers will immediately see the type of coverage for which they qualify. This year, it’s easier than ever to shop on mobile devices.
- For those who prefer the phone to an online experience, help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Assistance is available in multiple languages. Call (800) 318-2596.
- National Youth Enrollment Day is December 10.
Consumers should also note that open enrollment continues through January 31; the December 15 deadline is important for coverage that starts at the beginning of the new year.
“We’re days away from the [conclusion of the] final open enrollment of the Obama administration,” Burwell said. “Don’t let the political climate, where some of the proposals out there threaten to take away coverage, prevent you. With the ACA, we’ve helped to make a down payment on a healthier future. It’s a good deal for families and for our country.”