HHS: ACA Marketplace enrollment grew among minority populations in 2022

Due to increased outreach and education efforts for the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, enrollment among minority groups significantly increased between 2020 and 2022, a new report showed. It comes ahead of the Marketplace open enrollment period, which begins November 1.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report analyzed HealthCare.gov data on plan selections during the open enrollment periods from 2015 to 2022. However, the data has some limitations, the agency pointed out. The analysis method is less predictive of multiracial, American Indian or Alaska Native people. Additionally, it relies on self-reported race and ethnicity data from the 2010 Census, which HHS said may be outdated in areas that have experienced major demographic changes in the last decade. The agency could also only use data from the federal Marketplace Healthcare.gov because state-based Marketplace data was not available to HHS.

Key findings from the report include:

  • The number of Latino enrollees increased 53% to 2.6 million people in 2022 from 1.7 million in 2020.
  • Black enrollees in the Marketplace increased 49%, to 1.3 million people from 0.9 million.
  • American Indian and Alaska Native enrollees increased to 68,000 people from 52,000, a 32% jump.
  • The number of Asian-American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander enrollees increased 6%, to 0.9 million people from 0.8 million.
  • White enrollees rose 11%, to 5.2 million people from 4.7 million.

One way the federal government said it improved outreach and education is by investing in navigator organizations, which help consumers find the best plan for their needs. For the 2022 open enrollment period, the Biden administration awarded $80 million to navigator organizations to help enrollment in the Marketplace, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program. The administration announced in August that it expanded its investment to $98.9 million for the 2023 open enrollment period. In contrast, the Trump administration gave $10 million for the 2019 open enrollment period.

In addition to increased outreach and education efforts, the agency also credited the American Rescue Plan’s enhanced premium tax credits for the rise in enrollment.

“Access to high-quality, affordable health care is top priority of the Biden-Harris Administration, and the Affordable Care Act is central in our efforts to increase access for America’s families,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra in a news release. “This report shows that our efforts are working, including among Black, Latino, and American Indian and Alaska Native consumers. 

HHS will work to ensure that more people of color find insurance during the 2023 open enrollment period, Becerra said. Such efforts seem to be paying off. The uninsured rate reached a record low of 8% in early 2022, another recent HHS report showed.

“The uninsured rate is at a record low in the country, but we know we have more to do to close gaps in coverage and increase equity,” Becerra said. “That’s why HHS is focused on building on these coverage gains during this next Open Enrollment Season starting on November 1.”

Photo: Nataliia Nesterenko, Getty Images

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