A record number of Michigan residents purchased health insurance through the Affordable Care Act marketplace for 2023.
On Thursday, Jan. 26, state officials announced Michigan’s registration total of 322,273. This is a 7% increase over last year. Enrollment has increased for three consecutive years after trending downward from 2017 to 2021.
This year’s increase reflects national figures. A record 6.3 million Americans enrolled in coverage through the federal program. Many of them are seeing reduced prices thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act.
Passed by Congress in 2022, the law capped copayments for insulin at $35 per month for Medicare beneficiaries, made covered vaccines available free to Medicare Part D beneficiaries, and reduced premiums for millions of families insured through the Affordable Care Act market.
“Hundreds of thousands of Michigan residents have chosen an affordable, high-quality health insurance plan on the market and this is a major victory for the health of this state,” said Anita Fox, director of the Department of Michigan Insurance and Financial Services.
“We know that comprehensive health insurance leads to healthier families and a healthier, more productive Michigan because it provides access to care for illnesses and injuries, but also preventative care like childhood vaccinations and cancer screenings.”
More families were eligible for grants this year after the federal government fixed an earlier policy dubbed the “family problem.” In the past, eligibility for financial assistance through the market was based on whether a person had access to affordable insurance offered by the employer. But the question of whether the plan was affordable rested only on coverage for employees, not their families.
The recent rule change bases the determination of affordability on the cost of coverage for the employee and family members. Eligible families would be those paying 9.12% or more of their household income for the employer-sponsored plan.
“This means more than 55,000 additional Michiganders now have insurance and receive preventive care and childhood vaccines at no cost,” said Joseph Palm, regional director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
In 2022, the uninsured rate in the United States was around 8%, which Fox called an all-time low. The last data she saw for the Michigan rate was around 6%.
The deadline to enroll in Marketplace coverage has passed, but some residents will be eligible for a special enrollment period if they have experienced a qualifying life event, such as birth, job loss or death. divorce.
Fox said it doesn’t have specific data on what may have contributed to the increase, but it’s likely a combination of factors, including trends in employer-sponsored coverage, changes employment, grant eligibility, and steps to exit Medicaid while ensuring full coverage. plans.
“In our department, we’ve seen a massive influx of people wanting to become insurance agents during the pandemic, maybe giving them more control over their income, a little more self-employment, and those people may lose health coverage. sponsored by the employer and move to a plan,” she said.
Over the past two decades, the number of companies offering health care benefits has declined, according to data from an annual survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation. In 2022, an estimated 51% of companies of all sizes offered health insurance to at least some of their workers. This number was 59% in 2021 and 66% in 1999.
Almost all large companies – those with 200 or more workers – offer health benefits to their workers. Small companies are less likely to offer such benefits due to budget constraints.
An estimated 67% of companies with 10 to 199 workers offered health benefits last year, up from 72% in 2021 and 81% in 1999. Similarly, companies with three to nine workers rose from 49% in 2021 to 39% in 2022, according to the results of the Kaiser Foundation survey.
Over the past decade, the trend for many companies has been to reduce benefits or shift more cost sharing onto the employee, via higher deductibles and copays, to counter rising health care costs. health, said Bret Jackson, president and CEO of the Economic Alliance for Michigan, a nonprofit made up of businesses and unions working to grow Michigan’s economy.
But a tighter labor market has forced some more competitive industries to pivot and expand the benefits available to attract and retain workers.
“It’s not that they’re not concerned about cost,” Jackson said. “You can’t find people to work in grocery stores, in gas stations. I think in general the trend is going to be to do things to encourage people to work, not to discourage people like removing benefits.
The Kaiser Foundation’s 2022 survey of more than 2,100 employers, published in the journal Health Affairs in December, indicated little change in annual family premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance in 2022 compared to the previous year. The average annual increase in family bonuses was 1%, the lowest year-over-year increase in decades.
But with a recent spike in inflation, bigger increases in annual bonuses are likely imminent for 2023, Kaiser Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman noted in a news release.
For Jackson, this is already a reality at the Economic Alliance for Michigan. The company’s benefits plan for 2023 is expected to cost 13.8% more than in 2022.
“Small businesses are just being killed by health care costs,” Jackson said. “We need Congress, we need our state legislature, to really attack what’s driving up health care costs and that’s the hospitals, that’s the drugs, that’s (the drug benefit managers ), it’s private equity.”
Since 2012, inflation has increased by 25%, while wages have increased by around 38% and the average premium for family medical coverage has increased by around 43%, according to the Kaiser Foundation survey.
For more information on obtaining health insurance, visit michigan.gov/healthinsuranceor call 877-999-6442 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.
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