A record 16.3 million signed up for ‘Obamacare’ health coverage. That’s double the number from when it launched a decade ago

More than 3 million new members have joined the marketplace, also known as “Obamacare,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The government works with nonprofit groups and invests in specialized programs that help sign up people in low-income, immigrant, Black and Latino communities to enroll more peoplesaid Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

“We are making unprecedented investments to expand our organizational footprint to enroll in almost every county in the country and target the hardest to reach communities,” he said.

The increase in enrollment comes as the number of uninsured people is at its lowest – Only 8% of those in the United States remain without coverage.

President Joe Biden and a Democratic-led Congress have committed millions of dollars in the past two years to open affordable insurance plans for more people and prohibit states from kicking people off Medicaid during the COVID-19 pandemic. The market itself has also grown in recent years, with more insurers participating, giving most Americans at least three plans to consider when enrolling.

Those coverage breaks were extended until 2025 under a major climate and health care law sponsored by Democrats last year.

The low-cost plans, which offer zero dollar premiums for some who enter the market, have transformed what has been a flat market for the Obama-era health law, said Massey Whorley, a CEO of health consulting company Avalere.

“To have this level of continuous improvement is very interesting,” Whorley said. “We were in a position a few years ago where overall exchange enrollment was flat and declining a lot of people thought the exchanges looked like this stable but shrinking environment.”

Significant progress in lowering the uninsured rate across the country, however, is threatened this year. MILLIONS of people expected to lose their Medicaid coverage starting this spring when states will begin the process of removing people who no longer qualify, in many cases because their current income is too high to qualify.

A portion of people are expected to move from Medicaid to the marketplace, and the administration said it is spending $12 million to keep information specialists on the job in the coming months to help people who enroll in the health law marketplace if you lose Medicaid coverage.

Some who have had Medicaid coverage for the past few years decide they can save a few dollars each month to maintain coverage through the health law’s marketplace, Whorley said. Some may decide they can’t afford the coverage, which often has higher co-payments, deductibles and monthly premiums than Medicaid.

“They have to make real choices,” Whorley said. “If you’re already struggling to make rent and pay your utilities, put gas in your car, put food on the table, maybe you’re not in a position.”

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