Black sign-ups for the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — have seen a noticeable jump in enrollment numbers during a special open enrollment period created through President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

Of those who have reported their race during enrollment, 17% are Black/African-American, Ambassador Susan Rice, director of domestic policy at the White House, confirmed to theGrio. Rice is overseeing equity issues in the administration and notes the increase is an 11% jump over the last two years.

“African Americans clearly see the need for access to healthcare during the COVID crisis,” Maya R. Cummings, president and CEO of Global Policy Solutions found. “Those who would have gone perhaps without have realized that the dangers in the world particularly the uncertainties connected to COVID made them vulnerable. Everybody knows someone who died … They are just being prudent by signing up in larger numbers.”

However, Cummings acknowledged there are more who need to sign up for access. “All of the projections from 2020 say that the decline in coverage worsened for Blacks and brown people due to COVID-related job losses which accelerated the loss of employer-sponsored healthcare,” she adds.

As far as the overall enrollment numbers for Obamacare, Ambassador Rice called it “good news.” From Feb. 15, 2021 to March 2021, 500,000 people have registered. She called the half a million sign-ups in the month and a half time frame an “extraordinary number.”

Rice added, “because of the passage of the American Rescue Plan by Congress, all of the costs for these plans are coming way down.” Starting April 1 the average enrollees is expected to save $50 per person every month.

Special open enrollment ends in August, and the administration is urging Americans to take advantage of the low premiums on Healthcare.gov that are currently being offered. Those with existing ACA policies can return to the government website to lower their rates.

Rice said the enrollment is specifically targeted to those who may have lost their insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic or never had insurance. A past criticism of Obamacare was the high deductible. Rice contends that issue is being worked on.

No matter the issues with Obamacare, an 8-year study of the ACA from 2010 to 2018 called “Changes in Health Coverage by Race and Ethnicity” found there were large coverage gains for groups of color under the ACA. It shows coverage rates increased for all racial/ethnic groups between 2010 and 2016, with the largest increases occurring after the implementation of the ACA Medicaid and Marketplace coverage expansions in 2014.

Hispanics had the largest percentage point decrease in their uninsured rate, which fell from 32.6% to 19.% between 2010 and 2016. Black, Asian, and American Indian and Alaska natives also had larger percentage point decreases in their uninsured rates compared to whites over that same period.

Story & Photo Credit: April Ryan/thegrio