More Americans are signing up for health insurance through Obamacare exchanges than ever before, the Biden administration said on Wednesday.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), a record 15.9 million Americans have so far enrolled in health care plans through the federal Affordable Care Act marketplace, also known as Obamacare. Among them, 3.1 million are new enrollees, with 12.8 million people selecting a different plan or being automatically enrolled in the one they had in 2022.

This represents a 1.8 million, or 13 percent increase, from the same time last year.

Those who wish to get health coverage through Obamacare exchanges have until Jan. 15 to sign up, said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

“Thanks to President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, four out of five enrollees can find coverage for $10 or less,” Becerra said in a statement touting the all-time record. “There are only five days left in Open Enrollment: do not miss your chance to enroll in high-quality, affordable health care.”

In August 2022, Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, a $740 billion spending package that critics say is misleadingly named. The package, which pushed the total amount of spending in the pipeline by congressional Democrats to around $3.5 trillion since Biden took office, sets aside $64 billion for a three-year extension of Obamacare subsidies.

Congressional Democrats were already making Obamacare subsidies more generous prior to the Inflation Reduction Act’s passage. As part of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which Biden signed into law in March 2021, Obamacare subsidies were extended to cover those with an income above 400 percent of the federal poverty level.

Citing pandemic recovery, Democrats promised to restore the 400 percent federal poverty level premium subsidy cap at the beginning of 2023. With the passage of Inflation Reduction Act, however, those expanded Obamacare subsidies are set to last until Dec. 31, 2025.

In a May 2022 report (pdf), the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said the expanded Obamacare subsidies would cost a $30 billion in taxpayer dollars in 2022 alone. That’s about 50 percent higher than the amount the office originally estimated a year earlier.

Obamacare’s total subsidy cost in the year of 2022, according to the CBO report, would be about $90 billion, including $60 billion for the original and $30 billion for the expanded component.

Meanwhile, the CBO originally estimated that nearly 75 percent of the money spend on the expanded subsidies would go to people who already had health insurance. According to pro-free market think tank the Paragon Health Institute, this means that most of the new government spending simply replaced household spending and allowed these households to spend more in other ways.

“This contributes to inflation by increasing aggregate demand without an increase in aggregate supply,” the Institute said in a policy analysis (pdf).

Bill Pan is a reporter for The Epoch Times.

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