When it was first enacted, all the way back in March of 2010, critics weren’t so sure the Affordable Care Act Marketplace would have staying power. It was a new concept that disrupted the industry and would take some getting used to, especially among consumers.
The law was designed to protect affordability at the consumer level. But it wasn’t the most affordable option for some. And even providers were concerned the ecosystem itself wouldn’t be able to hold up to the needs and demands of the public. There were, of course, hiccups along the way, with tech, data flow, and marketability. And while many Americans took advantage of the health insurance plans via the ACA Marketplace, some politicians vowed to make changes that included eliminating the platform altogether.
Despite the previous presidential administration’s plans to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, the Marketplace continues to serve millions of Americans today. And there are a few other contributing factors that indicate the ACA isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, it’s positioned to thrive as a viable platform for health insurance providers and individual consumers alike. Today, we’ll take a deeper dive to explore why the ACA Marketplace will likely continue to thrive for coverage years to come.
The Affordable Care Act Marketplace Gets a Pretty Big Boost
In the latest round of relief, the ACA saw a surge in funds, allowing for the expansion of the Marketplace. Reduced costs, narrower requirements, and more support are reinforcing the integrity and attractiveness of the Marketplace.
Increased Funding Translates to Better Affordability
President Biden’s American Rescue Plan included additional funding for the ACA Marketplace. The surge in funds is making health insurance available to nearly seven million people. According to some estimates, of the 29 million or so without adequate coverage, 6.8 million could qualify for free health insurance right now. Another 1.3 or so million could pay as little as $50 per month in premiums.
More Premium Tax Credit Options
The expanded ACA Marketplace also includes increased availability of premium subsidies. These discounts are deeper now and apply directly to monthly premiums. It also means that those already enrolled in a Marketplace plan can re-apply to explore even more applicable discounts.
Special Enrollment Period for All
To allow Americans the time to browse and enroll in new health plans, President Biden also enacted a special enrollment period for everyone. Americans can enroll now through August 15th, regardless of their household, insurance need, or income level. Because so many people and families have been impacted by the effects of the pandemic and economic shutdown, this extended SEP will allow access to a broader group of Americans.
The Marketplace Is Seeing Growth in Provider Participation
The ACA Marketplace is also seeing growing provider participation, meaning more health insurance companies are seeing success within the platform. In its earlier years, some providers didn’t find participation worth it. With a renewed platform and a means to potentially connect with so many Americans who need coverage, more and more providers are flocking back to the platform.
More Health Insurance Companies
The ACA Marketplace will continue to thrive as long as providers keep offering quality and affordable health plans. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported surges in participation this year, with 30 insurers entering the Marketplace across 20 different states. Another 61 providers are expanding their offerings. On average, a consumer will have up to five different health insurance providers from which to choose. The average was around three, back in 2018.
Increased Benefits for Participants
More health insurance providers mean more plans. More plan options mean increased coverage options for those enrolling. The jump in providers also translates to more competition. Healthy competition is proving to make more plans even more affordable than ever.
Existing Participants Offering Better Coverage
Some of the existing providers, including the big companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield and Cigna, are expanding their offerings. The infusion of funds and support to the ACA is allowing companies to explore better coverage across Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum plans. It’s making it easier for Americans to find the precise coverage for themselves and their families.
More Americans Need the Marketplace
The ACA Marketplace, once called Obamacare, is now being rebranded in some circles as Bidencare 2.0. President Biden sought to reinforce and expand the platform in response to the pandemic and because so many Americans need the resources. When there is a demand for affordable health insurance like there is now, it’s clear the Marketplace is positioned to thrive.
Pandemic Job Losses and Unemployment
The pandemic and economic shutdowns forced furloughs and layoffs nationwide. Despite the Paycheck Protection Program benefits, many workers found themselves without work and without company-sponsored health insurance. Unemployment numbers skyrocketed, and the Marketplace became a lifeline for thousands.
Increases in Qualifying Life Events
The pandemic conditions aside, millions of Americans faced qualifying life events. People not only lost their jobs. Many were forced to relocate to more affordable housing. Others experienced household changes, taking in new family members. And while life for many is starting to feel more back to normal, there are still thousands who continue to experience changes, challenges, and hardships.
What was once considered “affordable health insurance” has since changed. And the latest relief infusion into the Marketplace addresses new definitions of affordability to help reach those financially affected by the pandemic. With the financial hardships felt by so many, a new definition of affordable, based on a percentage of household income, guarantees individuals have better access to benefits.
The American Rescue Plan certainly included supporting ongoing access to affordable health insurance coverage. And the ACA Marketplace continues to see growth and participation. Its reinforced structure, the surge in funding, additional support, and the overwhelming need for its benefits will ensure it continues to thrive in the years to come. To learn more about exploring your options with the ACA Marketplace, start with W3ll! Let us help you leverage the latest advantages of the bigger and better platform that is the ACA Marketplace today.