The Uninsured and Free Healthcare Insurance

Eighteen million uninsured Americans are eligible for free or subsidized health insurance.

Kaiser Family Foundation estimates, 12.5 million of the uninsured are eligible for free coverage which includes 3.4 million for whom “free” means high-deductible bronze coverage. More than likely, half of the uninsured could get “platinum-equivalent” silver healthcare insurance coverage for a premium amounting to no more than 2% of income).

Yet the estimates of the reduction in the uninsured population to be triggered by the ARPA subsidy boosts remain modest. The CBO estimates that ARPA will reduce the uninsured by “just” 1.3 million in 2022 mostly due to a lack of knowledge.

January 25, 2021, KFF; “Even before the COVID-19 pandemic began, signing up for health coverage and applying for financial assistance was often challenging.  A 2020 KFF survey found 51% of consumers looking for coverage during the 2020 open enrollment encountered difficulties. Nearly 5 million consumers sought in-person help and were unable to obtain it.

During the 2021 open enrollment, the challenges compounded as consumers unfamiliar with the process of enrollment, who needed to find replacement marketplace or Medicaid coverage for the first time, found the in-person assistance had shifted to remote. Meanwhile other pandemic-related complexities arose. 

Last year, nearly all state based marketplaces (SBM) re-opened marketplace enrollment in response to the pandemic, and SBMs are beginning to announce COVID re-openings this year. The Urban Institute estimates that making the ARPA subsidies permanent will reduce the uninsured by 4.2 million.

Getting the uninsured to enroll in health insurance programs for which they are eligible is harder than getting shots into arms. Andrew Sprung at Xpostfactoid suggested people can be informed of how to get healthcare insurance while waiting for their Covid vaccinations. Perhaps a booth dispensing information and doing enrollments?