The Biden administration's special six-month enrollment period gave San Diego attorney Erin Benler-Ward time to find a plan for her 22-month-old son. He was covered through her work, but the premiums were $300 a month. So she shopped California's marketplace for plans.
"Luckily, they were about half the price that my employer was offering for dependent health care coverage," Benler-Ward said. She signed up her son in June.
The pandemic has created unique economic circumstances that have boosted enrollment, according to Jeffrey Clemens, an economics professor at UC San Diego.
"A great deal of churn has hit the labor market because of the pandemic," he said. That churn has come from layoffs, employees quitting and some people deciding to change careers altogether. "Under circumstances like that there's, of course, a lot more value to opening up some additional enrollment opportunities," Clemens said.
Because, he added, that's one of the reasons for the health insurance exchange - people don't have to rely on employers for coverage.