Biden extending Obamacare special enrollment season

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The Biden administration is giving Americans three more months to sign up for Obamacare through a special enrollment period, saying it will give people more time to shop for boosted health insurance subsidies Congress included in the recent Covid stimulus package.

President Joe Biden during his first weeks in office opened a new special enrollment period lasting until May 15, citing increased demand for coverage during the pandemic. The new three-month extension was announced as Biden marks the health care law’s 11th anniversary during a speech in Ohio and touts the biggest expansion of the law to date.

The administration said the enhanced health insurance subsidies are slated to become available to shoppers on the federal enrollment site, HealthCare.gov, on April 1. The Covid relief package, which passed with just Democratic votes, made subsidies more generous for low-income shoppers on the marketplace and extended them to middle-income Americans for the first time.

More than 200,000 people signed up during the first two weeks of the enrollment season, according to the most recent federal data. That’s about triple the rate of the same period during the previous year, when only people with special qualifying events could purchase marketplace coverage outside of the usual fall enrollment window.

Starting in early July, Americans who claimed unemployment at any point last year will be able to get free coverage under the relief bill.

The federal health department will be tasked with overseeing these new benefits. Administration officials have acknowledged that implementing the unemployment provision will be a challenge due to technological difficulties.

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