USA — Nearly 16 million Americans have so far signed up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace, a 13% jump from a year earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

That figure surpasses the record 14.5 million who signed up for coverage for 2022.

Enrollment for 2023 healthcare plans under the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, is open between Nov. 1 and Jan. 15.

This year’s open enrollment period has resulted in more people signing up than ever before. About 3.1 million people who have signed up for the plans are new enrollees, HHS said.

One reason for the large number of new enrollees is the expansion of tax credits, which allows more people to qualify for low- or no-cost premiums on ACA plans.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 increased premium tax credits for ACA insurance coverage purchases, making it easier for people to obtain coverage.

The American Rescue Plan was signed by President Joe Biden to provide relief to Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic and to “rescue the economy” from the effects of the global health crisis.

One part of the American Rescue Plan includes “lowering or eliminating health insurance premiums” for millions of low-income and middle-class families.

The law expanded subsidies for middle-class households next year by reducing the cost required to buy a benchmark plan.

The law includes larger subsidies to ensure “no family spends more than 8.5% of their income” on health insurance.

A family of four with an annual household income of US$90,000 could see their premium decrease by US$200 each month, according to a statement on the White House’s website.

Lower health premiums will allow for more people who are uninsured to receive healthcare. The American Rescue Plan, passed by Congress in August, extends the subsidies until 2025.

When shopping for plans, 92% of those who enroll through will have access to options from three or more insurance companies.

In addition, new standardized plan options will be available through in 2023, allowing consumers to compare and select plans.

This is the tenth open enrollment period since the Affordable Care Act went into effect in 2013.

Prior to the ACA’s implementation in 2010, African-Americans were more likely than whites to be uninsured.

Some African-Americans do not have health insurance because of their income, inability to access transportation, or because they live in a food desert, where fresh food is scarce.

According to a 2019 Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) study, 11% of African-Americans were uninsured, with 37% on Medicaid or another public plan and 52% having private health coverage.

Under the government health plan, a range of health services will be covered such as doctor visits, unplanned emergencies, prescriptions, pregnancy and childbirth, mental health services, and COVID-related illnesses.

Insurers that provide these plans include UnitedHealth Group Inc, CVS Health, Centene Corp and Elevance.

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