Twenty-five percent more North Carolinians enrolled for insurance at Healthcare.gov.
Here’s some good news: More of you have health insurance this year than ever before, and you likely paid less.
A record 670,223 North Carolinians signed up for health insurance plans on HealthCare.gov during this open enrollment period. That’s the most since its creation in 2013 and a 25% increase from the year before.
“The numbers say it all: We are delivering on our commitment to make healthcare a right for Americans and to ensure it is accessible and affordable,” said Xavier Becerra, the US Health and Human Services Secretary, in a statement last week.
The federal marketplace, created in 2013 as part of the sweeping Affordable Care Act, offers health care plans to people that can’t get affordable insurance through their jobs, often because they’re self-employed or work for small employers.
The Biden administration made health care access a priority over the last year, and the cost for many people dropped thanks to a measure in the American Rescue Plan that expanded eligibility.
The average North Carolinian, for example, saved $53 a month last year on their plan.
There was also a big uptick in outreach to people in need of insurance, according to Mark Van Arnam, the director of the NC Navigator Consortium, a free service that helps people choose plans.
More People Getting Covered
The increase in HealthCare.gov matches what happened in the country overall, and means more people are going into the year with health insurance.
It’s a big deal in a state like ours, where a good chunk of the population is still uninsured because of the Republican-led state legislature’s continued refusal to accept federal dollars to extend Medicaid coverage to poor adults.
There are a dozen states, largely in the South, that haven’t expanded Medicaid, and in North Carolina, that means an estimated 500,000 to 600,000 adults have few to no options for healthcare.
States that have expanded Medicaid have seen better outcomes for babies, cancers caught earlier, and fewer bankruptcies with less medical debt saddling people, according to research compiled by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.
There was a big recent push earlier to help people in North Carolina caught in the coverage gap.
A federal proposal, the Build Back Better plan, would have extended coverage to people in non-expansion states like North Carolina but that bill has stalled in the US Senate.
Need Health Insurance?
If you need health insurance, the sign-up period for 2022 is over. But people can still sign up for a plan if they’ve had a life-altering event like a new baby, job loss, marriage or divorce.