Open enrollment for 2022 kicked off on November 1, and it’s particularly consequential to President Joe Biden, who campaigned on building off the success of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to expand access to health care coverage. To deliver on these promises, open enrollment has undergone several key changes to make it more consumer-friendly for 2022.
- First off, open enrollment is a month longer than the previous four years. While open enrollment last year ended on December 15, 2021, for the upcoming plan year, it ends on January 15, 2022.
- Plan enrollees can also expect record-low prices, thanks to an extension of ACA premium tax credits made possible by the American Rescue Plan. According to the Biden administration, four out of five people can now find a plan for $10 or less per month.
- Additionally, 2022 sees a major boost to enrollment assistance. Plan enrollees for 2022 can now look forward to over 5,000 enrollment assisters and navigators, plus nearly 50,000 brokers and agents. Notably, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services relaunched a program that engages with local organizations to provide outreach and education.
- The current open enrollment has a new focus on health equity. The administration is rolling out new efforts to people who previously lacked access to coverage, and advertising is being conducted in several new languages: Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, and Hindi.
- Finally, more Americans than ever will be eligible for open enrollment 2022. That’s because three states (Kentucky, Maine, and New Mexico) transitioned from state-run coverage to the federal exchange for 2022, bringing the total number of state-based marketplaces on healthcare.gov to 18.
What Do These Changes Mean for Enrollment?
For plan year 2021, enrollment reached a record high of 12.2 million people, which can be attributed to a special COVID-19 enrollment period that ended in most states in August 2021. However, many Americans seem to be unaware of premium tax credits made possible by the American Rescue Plan. According to an October 2021 poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), only about a quarter of adults who are uninsured or buy their own insurance checked to see if there were eligible for ACA premium tax credits.
KFF currently estimates that nearly 11 million Americans are eligible for but not enrolled in subsidized ACA plans. Despite a record number of enrollees in 2021, it remains to be seen if new outreach efforts, longer enrollment periods, and other changes brought into play for 2022 will be enough to attract more enrollees and continue to lower the number of uninsured individuals in America.