Amid COVID-19 job losses, nearly 500K sign up for coverage on HealthCare.gov

Healthcare.gov site on computer
CMS has released a look at how COVID-19 is impacting Healthcare.gov sign-ups. (Healthcare.gov)

As COVID-19 continues to impact the job market, new data from the Trump administration shows that nearly 500,000 people signed up for coverage using HealthCare.gov through May.

The report shows that 486,954 people enrolled in an Affordable Care Act (ACA) plan using the loss of coverage special enrollment period through May of this year. In addition, 405,187 signed up under other special enrollment options (SEP).

That's 46% higher than in 2019, when 333,163 people used that SEP to sign up for ACA plan through May. In addition, 355,261 people signed up through it in 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said.

Enrollment under the loss of coverage SEP peaked in April, according to the report, with 225,000 people using the exchanges to sign up for coverage. This represents a 139% increase compared to April 2019, CMS said.

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In May, as the job market stabilized somewhat, the number of people signing up using that SEP decreased to 103,000. However, that still represents a 43% increase in sign-ups compared to May 2019, according to the report.

"These enrollment numbers show that individuals who lost their jobs or experienced other qualifying life events due to the COVID-19 pandemic are using existing SEPs to enroll in coverage through HealthCare.gov," the analysts wrote. "As Americans consider their health insurance options during this crisis and as the country re-opens, CMS will continue to provide assistance to help inform those choices."

CMS said that overall enrollment in ACA plans through any special enrollment period was up by 27% compared to the year before.