Special enrollment opens for federal health insurance marketplace


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Michiganders without health insurance have a rare opportunity to sign up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

A special COVID-19 enrollment period opened this week and runs through May 15.

Dr. LaShawn McIver, director of the Office of Minority Health Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said there are roughly 30 million Americans without health-care coverage, and Black, Latino, and Native Americans are more likely to be uninsured.

"We know that many folks have lost their jobs or were furloughed in the past year, and they're simply waiting for their next job to get health insurance," McIver explained. "So this is an opportunity for them to see if there's a plan that's right for them."

According to state data, Michigan experienced a 46% increase in the number of uninsured adults during the early months of the pandemic.

More than 267 thousand Michiganders purchased coverage during the 2020 Health Insurance Marketplace open-enrollment period that ended Dec. 15, about 2% more than in 2019.

McIver noted the new opportunity to shop for plans was made possible through President Joe Biden's executive order.

"Outside of the yearly open-enrollment period, you can only enroll in or change your marketplace plan if you have certain life changes," McIver confirmed. "So if you've lost your health coverage, you've moved, or you've had a baby. However, eligible consumers can qualify for this special enrollment period, even if they have not had a life change."

She added nearly nine in ten people who enroll in a marketplace plan, receive financial assistance.

For 2021 coverage, the majority of people who qualified for assistance could purchase a plan for 50 dollars or less a month.

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