Unemployed Americans on Thursday will be able to start signing up for medical coverage under the Affordable Care Act, with significant federal subsidies that could help lower premiums to as little as $0 per month.
The help in coverage is part of President Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan, which was passed by Congress in March.
Under the aid package, Americans who received or are approved to receive unemployment compensation for any week in 2021 are now eligible for subsidized coverage under the healthcare law, also known colloquially as Obamacare.
"Consumers can view 2021 plans and prices and submit an application to see if they are eligible for enrollment and financial assistance. If eligible, they can enroll in a plan that best meets their needs," the Health and Human Services Department said in a statement.
An average of three out of five Americans will be able to access zero-cost plans after advance payments of tax credits and four out of five will have access to plans at a cost of no more than $10 per month, the department notes.
"The Biden-Harris Administration is focused on providing relief to millions of families who need to access health insurance coverage because they have been impacted by job losses or underemployment during the pandemic," HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.
"We are doing everything we can to remove financial barriers to comprehensive health care," added Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure.
"The American Rescue Plan provides consumers with additional savings and will make coverage even more attainable for those most in need. We welcome people who received unemployment benefits in 2021 to check out their health coverage options on HealthCare.gov on July 1."
The front page of HealthCare.gov is seen on Thursday on the first day unemployed Americans are allowed to apply for federal assistance to pay for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Image courtesy HealthCare.gov/Health and Human Services Dept.
Uninsured Americans in states that use the federal portal HealthCare.gov can sign up for the lower cost plans through Aug. 15, while those who have already enrolled in healthcare coverage but have received or are eligible for unemployment can update their information to receive a potentially larger subsidy.
The subsidies available to help unemployed with coverage are tied to the ACA's benchmark silver plan, meaning those who select higher-level plans or live in states that require plans to cover additional benefits, including abortion, may have to pay a premium.
In April, new ACA subsidies were made available by the American Rescue Plan for Americans who were already eligible and who had ACA coverage but earned too much to qualify for subsidies.
Uncovered Americans who received unemployment benefits in 2021 are encouraged to visit HealthCare.gov to see if they are eligible for subsidies to help pay for coverage.