We recently discussed in a previous blog post that folks can now enroll in health insurance coverage via the Marketplace from February 15th- August 15th due to a COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period (SEP).
From our observations thus far, we have seen an increase in folks wanting to look at Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans in general, perhaps they missed the deadline last Fall to enroll, or looking at plans for the first time. While this is good news in general, the issue for many is that their household income excluded them from an affordable plan, due to income limits for federal subsidies to help lower the plan premiums.
Our observations first-hand coincide with a recent analysis done by the RAND Corporation, in which their health affairs experts found that one effective approach to bring in more people into the Marketplace is to extend subsidies to not only lower-income folks, but higher-earners as well.
With the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden, many more folks are now eligible for a subsidy under provisions in the law. In a nutshell, subsidies available have been broadened to many folks than before. For example, an individual earning around $19,000 a year will now be eligible for many plans with a zero premium, due to the increased subsidies. On the flip side, someone earning over $51,000 a year could expect premiums to drop by as much as $1,000 a month in some of the country’s most expensive markets.
An additional benefit with the new law is for folks who just lost their health coverage at work as well. Many times we meet people who liked their work plan but find it too expensive to maintain once they leave that employer (ie. COBRA). Now, the federal government foots the bill for your COBRA premiums for six months, giving folks some breathing room in tumultuous times.
There are some areas that were unaffected by the American Rescue Plan, which entails help for undocumented immigrants, and subsidies for poor American’s in states that have not expanded Medicaid under an option provided by the ACA. The latter instance we see personally as well, especially if the household income for an individual falls below $12,880 here in Texas. We then recommend alternative routes such as state-assistance (Medicaid) or local-assistance (Carelink or the equivalent).
Overall, we are hopeful that more folks can get financial assistance with this new law on their health insurance needs and these new subsidies will be available starting April 1st, 2021.
See below for a visual recap via PBS News Hour:
We hope you enjoyed this blog post on the constantly evolving market that is health insurance in America. We work very hard to keep you up-to-speed on changes that could impact you and your loved ones. To learn more about everything health insurance, we encourage you to visit our “Health Insurance 101” page. You can also look at ACA plan options 24/7 in your area, via this link. If we can be of personal assistance, reach out to us!
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Sources: RAND Corporation, New York Times, Healthcare.gov, Texas Medicaid, Carelink, PBS News Hour