LISTEN: More than 335,000 have already signed up — and new federal subsidies make it surprisingly affordable despite inflation hitting monthly premiums. GPB's Sofi Gratas has more.

In an annual dash for health insurance coverage, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare are encouraging people to sign up for 2023 marketplace insurance by Dec. 15, for coverage starting Jan. 1, 2023. 

Applicants also have until Jan. 15 to sign up for coverage that would start in February. 

So far, over 5.5 million people nationwide have enrolled, with over 1.2 million people signing up for the first time since open-enrollment started on Nov. 1. 

Over 335,000 Georgians have enrolled so far, according to most recent data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. 

Signups from Nov. 1 through Dec. 3 showed Georgia enrollment up 29% compared to 2021, Jessica Schubel, director of the Affordable Care Act, said in an interview with GPB. 

With just a few weeks left to sign up, that puts Georgia on track to exceed total marketplace enrollment from last year.

Those signing up may notice higher premiums, which, for the first time in several years, cost more on average nationwide. 

But new subsidies under the federal Inflation Reduction Act, passed this year, reduce deductibles and copays and make $10-per-month plans possible, Schubel said. 

“I know most folks are surprised to see how affordable it actually is,” Schubel said.

The Inflation Reduction Act also makes more middle income applicants eligible for marketplace subsidies this year. 

But that doesn’t keep other people from falling into a coverage gap. 

A 2019 analysis estimated that more than half of uninsured adults in Georgia made too much to qualify for Medicaid, but too little to qualify for marketplace tax credits. That typically applies to uninsured adults who receive an annual income below 100% of the federal poverty level. 

There are also some people who might not even know they’re eligible for coverage. To tackle that, Georgia received just over $3 million in federal grants to hire more health insurance navigators this year, as part of nearly $100 million in funding disbursed nationally earlier this year. 

Schubel said the Biden-Harris administration will continue to think through “how we can best make sure that people in rural areas are aware of what is happening right [now] and what is available to them in terms of coverage options.”