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• Biden conflated two statistics. Four of five consumers would qualify for coverage costing $10 or less a month if they looked for it.
• However, only about one-third of actual insurance signups under the Affordable Care Act ended up costing $10 or less per month in premiums. So about one-third, not four out of five, are “finding” such coverage.
President Joe Biden recently trumpeted that during the most recent open enrollment period, a record 14.5 million Americans signed up for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act, the health insurance law that passed when Biden was vice president.
In a Jan. 27 statement, Biden cited changes that were included in the American Rescue Plan, the coronavirus and economic relief legislation that Biden signed several weeks after his inauguration in 2021. The legislation boosted the amount of subsidies for private insurance plans offered on the ACA’s marketplaces, while widening eligibility for receiving those subsidies.
The American Rescue Plan, Biden said, "did more to lower costs and expand access to health care than any action since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. It made quality coverage more affordable than ever, with families saving an average of $2,400 on their annual premiums, and four out of five consumers finding quality coverage for under $10 a month. As a result, millions of our fellow Americans have now gained the security and peace of mind that dependable health insurance brings."
When we looked into the numbers, we found that Biden incorrectly framed that "four out of five" figure. He conflated two pieces of data that have been released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a federal agency.
One statistic reported by the agency is that "four out of five consumers can find a plan for $10 or less per month" due to the changes under the American Rescue Plan.
However, that refers to the percentage of potential consumers who would find themselves eligible for a plan costing $10 a month or less if they looked. It doesn’t refer to the percentage who are "finding" such coverage, much less deciding to purchase such coverage.
The percentage of people actually signing up for coverage who are paying that little per month is much lower. About one-third of consumers who signed up for ACA coverage following implementation of the American Rescue Plan chose a plan costing $10 per month or less, the agency reported. All told, the agency said, more than 1 million consumers selected a Marketplace plan with premiums of $10 or less per month.
The White House stood by Biden’s framing, arguing that the notion of "finding" coverage covers the availability of insurance, not just its purchase.
However, a plain reading of Biden’s wording suggests that while four of five consumers may be eligible for coverage that costs that little, those consumers are not necessarily getting the message.
Biden said that due to the American Rescue Plan’s changes to the Affordable Care Act, "four out of five consumers (are) finding quality coverage for under $10 a month."
Biden has conflated two statistics. Four of five consumers would qualify for coverage costing that little if they looked for it. But only about one-third of actual insurance signups under the Affordable Care Act ended up costing $10 or less per month in premiums.
We rate the statement Mostly False.
Joe Biden, "Statement on 14.5 Million Americans Signing up for Health Insurance," Jan. 27, 2022
Associated Press, "Biden exaggerates $10 a month ‘Obamacare,'" Feb. 1, 2022
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, "Four in Ten New Consumers Spend $10 or Less Per Month for HealthCare.Gov Coverage Following Implementation of American Rescue Plan Tax Credits," June 14, 2021
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, "HHS Announces Additional Navigator Resources to Support the Extended HealthCare.gov Open Enrollment Period," Dec. 16, 2021
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