American Rescue Plan Lowers Costs for More Than 1.5 Million Americans During Special Enrollment Period

August 31, 2021 by Alec Stone MA, MPA, Former ONS Director of Government Affairs and Advocacy

When President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 ( into law in March 2021, the administration began working to make improvements in areas such as access and affordability by increasing eligibility for financial assistance. The new law lowered premiums for most people who currently had a Marketplace ( health plan and expanded access to financial assistance for more consumers, and data ( published in July 2021 showed that from February 15June 30, 2021, more than 1.5 million Americans signed up for new health insurance coverage using the 2021 Marketplace Special Enrollment Period (SEP).

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), “the number of new plan selections, from the start of the SEP opportunity through June 30, 2021, represents a substantial increase in enrollment from the same period in 2020 and 2019.” In June 2021 alone, CMS reported that 373,000 consumers registered for health insurance.

The Biden-Harris administration’s extended deadline ( for SEP, which ended on August 15, 2021, further increased and expanded healthcare coverage: 34% ( of new and returning consumers have found coverage for $10 or less per month on and 81 million ( people receive coverage through Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.  

“The monthly Marketplace numbers ( show that across the country, there’s a demand for high-quality, low-cost health coverage,” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra said. HHS is promoting access and affordability, reminding consumers that since the American Rescue Plan was proposed, the tax credit has provided a 40% decrease, and often a $10 monthly premium, for millions of Americans. The department offers several avenues to seek enrollment.

ONS offers resources ( for nurses and patients on financial ( concerns and solutions that can occur during treatment (, diagnosis (, and follow-up care. Members can learn about financial toxicity (, Medicare and Medicaid (, the Affordable Care Act (, and more.

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