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Safety nets kept US uninsured rate during pandemic – HHS

Enrollment in a health insurance program administered by the United States government Medicaid during the Covid-19 pandemic increased by 16%, with more than 11 million additional Americans enrolled, the Department of Health and Human Services said on Friday. Safety nets like Medicaid and the reopening of registrations via the Affordable Care Act helped stabilize uninsured rates even though millions lost employer-linked health insurance coverage as the pandemic shook the economy, the department said.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has turned our lives upside down in many ways, but today’s report shows that we have made significant progress in protecting the health of Americans,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. The pandemic has disrupted the federal surveys the HHS relies on for coverage estimates, the agency said in a health insurance coverage tracking report. He added that lower response rates, especially among low-income and younger respondents, may have affected the accuracy of his estimates.

The data showed a stable uninsured rate in 2020, with estimates ranging from 8.6% to 9.7% of the population, about 28 to 31.6 million people. About 30 million U.S. residents were uninsured in 2019, before the pandemic, show federal surveys. The rate of uninsured was significantly higher in Hispanic populations at 18.3%, residents of States That Have Not Expanded Medicaid Coverage at 17.6%, people below the poverty line at 17.2%, and Black populations at 10.4%, according to Friday’s report.

Addressing these disparities is a top priority for President Joe Biden’s administration, the department said. Data precedes online health insurance enrollment period market created by ACA, also known as Obamacare, for 2022, is scheduled to open on Monday and close on January 15.

About 2.8 million people have taken out health insurance on the government website after Biden reopened registrations for a special period from Feb.15 to Aug.15 in part because of the pandemic. The Democrat ran in 2020 with a promise to reduce growing inequalities, including expand access to health care and affordable drugs amid a pandemic that has killed more than 745,000 people so far.

Biden presented a negotiation social spending plan Thursday to Congress and voters. It extends the ACA premium tax credits until 2025 and adds coverage of hearing fees for people 65 and over, but lacked in particular Health Insurance and Extensions of Medicaid Coverage as well as the reform of drug prices.


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