The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that to continue its efforts to increase access to enrollment assistance for consumers, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will make $80 million available in grants to Navigators in Federal Marketplaces for the 2022 plan year. The funding, which will be used for outreach and education efforts, is the largest allocation CMS has made available for Navigator grants to date and represents an eight-fold increase in funding from the previous year. Navigators are a network of trained individuals that help consumers review their health coverage options as well as complete eligibility and enrollment forms.
- CMS invested $10 million annually in the Navigator program beginning with funding awarded in 2018 for the 2019 plan year. CMS awarded $36.2 million in 2017 for the 2018 plan year, down from a high of $63 million awarded in 2016 for the 2017 plan year.
- The department also released the 2021 Marketplace Open Enrollment report, which shows over 12 million consumers nationally selected a Marketplace plan during the 2021 Open Enrollment Period (OEP), a 5% increase from the 2020 OEP.
- HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said: “Navigators play a key role in helping us educate consumers about health plan options. The announcement builds upon the steps the Administration has taken to ensure individuals and families can access quality, affordable health coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
- In addition to the increase in number of overall plan selections, the 2021 Marketplace Open Enrollment report also reveals an increase in the number of returning customers continuing their coverage relative to new consumers enrolling in a Marketplace plan. This is primarily due to higher enrollment through special enrollment periods in 2020 and a larger percentage of enrollees with 2020 coverage remaining in their plans for the full year.
- The Biden Administration opened a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) in response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency from February 15 to August 15, 2021. The SEP offers the opportunity for individuals and families to take advantage of significantly reduced premiums, increased savings, and quality, affordable health coverage through the Marketplaces using the Federal Platform right now.