Deadline Obamacare is Saturday and subsidies are boosting applications


For Americans who need health insurance, now is the time to sign up. The end of the 2022 open enrollment window for Obamacare marketplaces in most states is Saturday.

According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a record 14.2 million Americans signed up for market coverage this year. New subsidies created by Congress as part of last year’s stimulus bill have temporarily lowered premiums for nearly everyone who buys their own insurance. And the Biden administration has invested heavily in advertising for the program and in professionals to help people choose the right plan.

Insurance premiums are calculated on a sliding scale by income. Generous insurance is available without any premium for Americans who are close to the poverty line. For the first time, Americans with incomes more than four times the poverty line — about $100,000 for a family of four — could qualify for subsidies if their insurance premiums cost more than 8.5 percent of their income. Those changes mean that even people who haven’t been able to find affordable options in recent years could benefit from reviewing their options this time around.

A good first stop to select a subscription is, which serves the 33 state markets operated by the federal government. If you live in the District of Columbia or in one of the 17 states that have their own insurance markets, you will be directed to a state site.

If you need human assistance in navigating the site, the website has a list of assistants and brokers who can guide you through the process for free.

The sign-up deadline marks the end of an unusual period for the marketplaces, when people were free to sign up for most of the year. Typically, the government limits enrollment to a few weeks a year to encourage people to always stay insured and not just sign up when they get sick. But government officials and insurance companies abandoned that approach amid the pandemic and instituted a lengthy “special enrollment period,” which is now over.

There are situations where people can take out insurance outside the normal enrollment period. People who are going through a major life change, such as losing a job or getting divorced, can enroll during the 60 days following that change. Americans who qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program can apply at any time of the year.

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