The latest coronavirus relief package did more than dole out
The American Rescue Plan , which President
In fact, many people who are currently uninsured will qualify for free or low-cost coverage through the exchanges or Medicaid, says
People who lost their jobs but want to keep their former employer’s health insurance also may get help. If you don’t qualify for group health insurance elsewhere, the federal government will pay your COBRA premiums for up to six months.
MILLIONS QUALIFY FOR FREE ACA COVERAGE
Since 2013 , ACA exchanges have allowed people to buy individual and family health insurance policies, usually with tax credits that reduced their premiums and other costs. ACA has four levels: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Bronze plans typically have the lowest monthly premiums and the highest deductibles; platinum plans have the highest premiums and the lowest deductibles.
Before the new relief package, people with incomes greater than 400% of the federal poverty level typically didn’t qualify for subsidies to reduce their premiums. Now people with incomes up to 600% of the poverty level — up to
The relief package reduced premiums for the vast majority of people who buy their own insurance, McDermott says. In addition, nearly half of the 29 million currently uninsured now qualify for a free plan, he says.
Those with incomes below 250% of the poverty line also will benefit from reduced cost-sharing, which means lower deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs. At 150% of the poverty line — income of about
Millions of unemployed people will be eligible for similar coverage. Anyone who receives unemployment benefits for any part of 2021 can qualify for a zero-premium silver plan with the maximum cost-sharing reductions, McDermott says. “For all intents and purposes, the health insurance exchanges are going to look at you as if your income was under 150%” of poverty level, he says.
HOW TO QUALIFY FOR ACA SUBSIDIES
The expansion of Affordable Care Act subsidies is retroactive to
Some people still don’t qualify for subsidies, including most people with incomes above 600% of the poverty line; undocumented immigrants; people who have offers of employer-provided health insurance that’s considered affordable; and certain low-income people in states that haven’t expanded Medicaid coverage.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT FREE COBRA COVERAGE
Many people prefer to keep their employer’s health insurance coverage when they lose their jobs, although the cost is often prohibitive. Most employers pay a large portion of the cost to cover workers, but former employees who opt to extend their coverage using the federal COBRA law typically must pay the full premium plus a 2% administrative fee.
Thanks to the new law, employers are required to provide free COBRA coverage from
If you’re eligible for other group health coverage — through a spouse, new employer or Medicare, for example — you won’t qualify for free COBRA.
“The intention is to help people who have no other options and would otherwise be uninsured because they can’t afford COBRA,” Long says.
Normally you have 60 days after you lose your job to opt for COBRA coverage, which typically lasts a total of 18 months. If you missed that 60-day window, or signed up but then dropped coverage, you may have another opportunity to enroll. The new law extends the sign-up period so that people who lost their jobs during the pandemic can get the free coverage. Employers are required to reach out to eligible former employees by
There will be a special enrollment window at the end of September to allow people with COBRA to switch to an ACA plan, McDermott says.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website
KFF: Health Insurance Marketplace Calculator https://www.kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/