All 50 states + DC have re-opened enrollment on their respective ACA exchanges in response to both the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the American Rescue Plan (ARP), which substantially expands and enhances premium subsidies to millions of people!
If you've never enrolled in an ACA healthcare policy before, or if you looked into it years ago but weren't impressed, please give it another shot now. Thanks to the ARP (and some other reasons), it's a whole different ballgame this spring & summer.
Here's 10 important things to understand when you #GetCovered:
The Urban Institute has come out with a brand-new analysis which projects the impact of making the ACA subsidies which have been expanded & enhanced temporarily under the American Rescue Plan permanent. In other words, this is what they expect the real-world impact would be if Congress were to finally #KillTheCliff and #UpTheSubs permanently (as opposed to for just 2021 - 2022), as I and other healthcare activists been pushing for for years now.
Savings to the Rescue – Pennie is Now Open with Increased Savings
Pennie Customers Can Now See Savings When Shopping for Health Coverage
Uninsured Pennsylvanians will be able to receive significant savings in health coverage as a result of the American Rescue Plan
Harrisburg, PA – April 16 – As a result of the recent American Rescue Plan, also known as the COVID-19 relief package, provisions specific to the Affordable Care Act have impacted the way health insurance is available in Pennsylvania. These provisions include significant impacts, including an increase in savings, for Pennsylvanians seeking individual market coverage and those already enrolled through Pennie, as well as those who may lose their employment and rely on COBRA to maintain their employer coverage. Pennie is excited to announce that these savings are now available at pennie.com for those looking to enroll in quality, affordable coverage.
OK, this is a first...while most other states have been simply extending their existing COVID Special Enrollment Periods out through August to allow for the newly-expanded ACA subsidies, Connecticut is shutting theirs down at midnight tonight (April 15th)...but relaunching it again on May 1st:
American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: Savings Coming for Connecticut Residents
You Can Start to Take Action & See Savings After May 1, 2021
A new federal law was passed in March 2021, the American Rescue Plan Act, and it changed the way we calculate financial help for customers for this year and 2022. Many more customers will now qualify for financial help to make plans more affordable. Whether you’re a first-time shopper, or an existing customer, there could be big changes ahead for your household, and we want to make sure you know how to take advantage of the new financial help available.
A few weeks ago, I noted that one of the numerous ACA-related provisions of the American Rescue Plan was this one:
Put simply, subsidized enrollees last year received around $6.3 billion in "excess subsidies"...they underestimated their income for the year 2020 and would normally be required to pay them back, but the ARP is waiving that "clawback" of overpayments for one year only in response to the pandemic.
Again, these are subsidies which were already paid out in 2020. The money is already in the hands of the enrollees (well, technically it's in the hands of the insurance carriers, but that in turn freed up an equal amount in the bank accounts of the enrollees, anyway). This provision simply says that the enrollees don't have to pay it back.
Note:A few weeks ago, I ran a rough back-of-the-envelope extrapolation of partial data from the first 2 weeks of the ongoing COVID Special Enrollment Period and concluded that IF enrollment via the 36 HealthCare.Gov states was representative nationally, and IF the pace of the last 2 weeks of February held perfectly steady, it would mean around 666,000 new enrollees via HC.gov and 832,000 nationally by the end of March. Those were two pretty big caveats, of course, and as you'll see below, the reality wasn't quite as eyebrow-raising, though it's still pretty impressive.
AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT DRAMATICALLY LOWERS HEALTH CARE COSTS FOR MANY MARYLANDERS
Low income individuals and families will pay nearly nothing for private health plans, higher income will be eligible for savings for the first time
(BALTIMORE) — Gov. Larry Hogan and Maryland Health Connection today announced reductions in the health plan costs that reflect additional financial help available through the federal American Rescue Plan Act. The new law means that:
Minnesotans will see expanded tax credits through MNsure beginning today
Savings will be applied this spring and summer; MNsure extends special enrollment period through July 16
ST. PAUL, Minn.—Recent changes to the Affordable Care Act made through the American Rescue Plan mean more Minnesotans will be able to access tax credits through MNsure. The changes lower premiums for most people who are currently enrolled through MNsure and expand access to tax credits to many Minnesotans who previously made too much money to qualify for financial help. Minnesotans who are not currently enrolled in a plan through MNsure, including those who are uninsured, have until July 16 to enroll in coverage.
NOTE: This is an updated version of a post from a couple of months ago. Since then, there's been a MASSIVELY important development: The passage of the American Rescue Plan, which includes a dramatic upgrade in ACA subsidies for not only the millions of people already receiving them, but for millions more who didn't previously qualify for financial assistance.
Much has been written by myself and others (especially the Kaiser Family Foundation) about the fact that millions of uninsured Americans are eligible for ZERO PREMIUM Bronze ACA healthcare policies.
I say "Zero Premium" instead of "Free" because there's still deductibles and co-pays involved, although all ACA plans also include a long list of free preventative services from physicals and blood screenings to mammograms and immunizations with no deductible or co-pay involved.
Washington Healthplanfinder is extending special enrollment period for Washingtonians seeking health coverage through August 15, 2021
More Savings Coming to Washington Healthplanfinder Customers
Due to recent federal action bringing new savings opportunities to current and new individual health insurance market customers, Washington Healthplanfinder is extending the current special enrollment period from May 15 through August 15. This aligns with the recent federal announcement extending the special enrollment period for those using the federal marketplace. This special enrollment period allows currently uninsured individuals, and people both on and off the Exchange, the opportunity to benefit from these new savings.
Roughly 29 million people currently living in the US lack health insurance. According to the new HHS estimates, about 6.8 million of them could now purchase an ACA plan with no monthly premium, and another 1.3 million could sign up for a health plan that costs less than $50 a month. Many of those people already qualified for free or low-cost coverage prior to the ARP, but based on the federal projections, the new law’s expansion of the ACA made an additional 2 million Americans eligible for free or cheap coverage.
An average of three out of five eligible uninsured Americans can access $0 plans after advance payments of tax credits and an average of four out of five current HealthCare.gov consumers will be able to find a plan for $10 or less per month after advance payments of tax credits
Department also announces $50 Million Boost to Special Enrollment Period Outreach Campaign
Today, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra announced that additional savings and lower health care costs are available for consumers on HealthCare.gov. The American Rescue Plan (ARP) has increased tax credits available to consumers, helping to reduce premiums and giving consumers access to affordable health care coverage.
The Department also announced an additional $50 million in advertising to bolster the Special Enrollment Period outreach campaign. The campaign will run through August 15, 2021.
Your Health Idaho, which had been scheduled to end their COVID-19 Enrollment Period on March 31st, has understandably extended the deadline out by another month in light of the American Rescue Plan's expanded/enhanced subsidies. Via email:
Enhanced Subsidies Go into Effect at Your Health Idaho April 1
Your Health Idaho Continues to Enroll Idahoans through April 30, 2021
BOISE, Idaho –Your Health Idaho, the state insurance exchange, will remain open throughout the month of April so Idahoans can take advantage of enhanced financial assistance, which lowers consumer’s monthly premiums.
For the first time ever, tax credits, which act like an instant discount, may be available for those who were not previously eligible and will be increased for Idahoans who already receive them. For some Idahoans, these savings can be significant. For example, a Treasure Valley married couple in their 20s making $50,000 a year could pay less than $10 a month and a family of four making $105,000 could pay as little as $200 a month.
GOV. HOGAN ANNOUNCES EXTENSION OF STATE HEALTH INSURANCE SPECIAL ENROLLMENT PERIOD UNTIL AUG. 15
(BALTIMORE) — Gov. Larry Hogan and Maryland Health Benefit Exchange announced today that the state health insurance marketplace, Maryland Health Connection, will extend its current Coronavirus Special Enrollment Period. Uninsured Marylanders have the opportunity to enroll in health coverage now until Aug. 15.
This deadline aligns with the federal special enrollment period extension announced by President Joe Biden for those 35 states that use HealthCare.gov, the federally run health insurance marketplace.
“We are pleased to announce the additional extension of this special enrollment period to Aug. 15, which
is already one of the nation’s longest in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Governor Hogan.
“Our administration remains committed to ensuring Marylanders have access to the resources they need
A few weeks ago, Pennie (Pennsylvania's ACA exchange), like several other state-based exchanges, put out a simple statement celebrating the passage of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and the dramatic improvement in ACA affordability that it brings for the next two years. Like most of the other exchanges, Pennie's initial press release was pretty bare-bones, as the bill had just been signed into law and there were a ton of logistical details to be worked out.
The Kaiser Family Foundation has updated their ACA Exchange Subsidy Calculator tool, which lets you plug in your household information and calculate how much you're eligible for in subsidies, as well as telling you things like:
Your percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)
The full-price benchmark Silver plan
Your net price for the benchmark Silver plan
The net price of theleast-expensive Bronze plan
The maximum you'd have to pay in out-of-pocket costs
It's been updated to reflect the newly-expanded & enhanced subsidies available under the American Rescue Plan for 2021 & 2022. The official ACA exchange websites will have this data available over the next few weeks depending on which state you live in (HealthCare.Gov is supposed to go live on April 1st; Covered California on April 12th; other states will vary):
Connect for Health Colorado Extends Enrollment Period through at least August 15
DENVER — Yesterday afternoon, President Biden announced that the federal health insurance marketplace, HealthCare.gov, will extend the current enrollment period through August 15, 2021, to help as many people as possible get covered following the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
Connect for Heath Colorado® Chief Executive Officer, Kevin Patterson, released the following statement in response:
“We will follow the federal decision so that we can help as many Coloradans as possible get covered this year. Keeping our doors open through at least mid-August maximizes the number of people who can apply for financial help and enroll through our Marketplace, especially as our state recovers from the pandemic. We will share more details soon about how Coloradans who are newly eligible for benefits under the American Rescue Plan can get those additional savings.”
The bottom line is that a whole lot of people got both the numerator and denominator wrong: Instead of being ~$53 billion to cover ~1.3 million people (which would be an insane $40,000 per person for just six months), it's actually more like ~$61 billion to help cover ~18.6 million people (roughly $3,300 per person per year on average).
Washington Health Benefit Exchange Issues Statement on the Signing of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021
Pam MacEwan, CEO Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange), issued the following statement today following the signing of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021:
“The new stimulus plan is great news for both our current Exchange customers as well as the uninsured who have not been able to afford health insurance. Enhanced premium assistance will help people afford and keep health coverage during the current pandemic.
“Our enduring goal is to ensure that every Washingtonian can get affordable health insurance coverage for themselves and their family. Today’s landmark legislation takes the necessary steps to help those who face high insurance costs that have prevented them getting health coverage for 2021 and 2022.
This is from a couple of weeks ago; I'm reposting it standalone for clarity. via HealthSource RI:
New Federal Changes Mean An Increase In Financial Help for Most HealthSource RI Customers; New Customers May Also Enroll Now
EAST PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island (March 11, 2021) — Recent changes at the federal level mean most HealthSource RI (HSRI) customers will soon be paying less for their health coverage. This change will result in the federal government providing an additional $30 million dollars in Advanced Premium Tax Credits (APTCs) that will bring premium costs down for HealthSource RI customers.
This is from a couple of weeks ago; I'm reposting it standalone for clarity. via Pennie: (via a text graphic for some reason):
Joint Statement from The Pennsylvania Insurance Dept. & Pennie regarding the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021:
"The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 will not only provide financial assistance through the forthcoming stimulus checks, but will also provide an estimated $270 million in additional subsidies to current Pennie customers in 2021 alone. Through this law, marketplace premiums will be capped at 8.5% of a household's income, meaning current Pennie customers will see lower monthly premiums and those without coverae or who were previously ineligible will now have access to financial help if they shop at Pennie.com.
In some cases, lower-income enrollees will have their monthly premiums eliminated entirely. Additionally, anyone who was eligible for unemployment income in 2021 will be eligible for coverage thorugh Pennie with a $0 premium for the remainder of the year.
MNsure Statement Regarding Federal Changes to the Affordable Care Act
ST. PAUL, Minn.—On Thursday, March 11, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, which includes several key health care provisions to the Affordable Care Act that will expand benefits available to Minnesotans through MNsure. This includes an increase in the amount of tax credits MNsure enrollees receive to help them pay for their premiums and an expansion of tax credits to middle-income Minnesotans who previously fell outside income thresholds for financial help. This increase in benefits means Minnesotans who purchase health insurance through MNsure will be able to find a plan with premiums that cost no more than 8.5% of their household income.
This is from a couple of weeks ago, but I'm reposting it standalone for clarity. Via DC Health Link:
Premium Drop for DC Health Link Coverage Thanks to the American Rescue Plan
$36 million in yearly insurance premium savings for DC residents with DC Health Link coverage; coverage available for as little as $2/month for laid-off residents; 100% of COBRA premium paid for laid-off workers
Washington, DC – Today, the DC Health Benefit Exchange Authority announced major savings for residents in the District of Columbia who purchase private health insurance through DC Health Link, the District’s state-based online health insurance marketplace established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Now signed into law by President Biden, the American Rescue Plan reduces premiums for health insurance through DC Health Link, provides health insurance for as little as $2/month to people who lost their jobs, and pays for 100% of COBRA for laid-off workers. We estimate that residents will save about $36 million in premiums.
A lot has transpired regarding the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021*. Our team has been meeting with CMS, other state-based marketplaces, our insurance carriers, and other stakeholders, and is in the process of putting together a strategic plan to implement these changes.
We know some of you might be getting questions from customers/stakeholders in the days to come since the federal exchange (Healthcare.gov) will have a robust national campaign supported by President Biden to help spread the word. Here’s what you should know:
Timelines are/will be different: Healthcare.gov will be implementing the subsidy expansion and a possible Special Enrollment Period at a different time than Access Health CT (AHCT). It may start earlier and may end later than CT (we do not know dates at this time).
American Rescue Plan Makes Health Insurance More Affordable for More Coloradans Shopping through the Exchange
DENVER — Yesterday afternoon, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021(American Rescue Plan) into law. Connect for Heath Colorado® Chief Executive Officer, Kevin Patterson, released the following statement in response to provisions which strengthen the Affordable Care Act and increase affordability:
“We are thrilled and getting ready to implement the health coverage provisions outlined in this law. This expansion of financial help will provide greater access to savings on the health plans we offer. This means more affordable health insurance for many more Coloradans.”
The American Rescue Plan does plenty to make private ACA-compliant health insurance dramatically more affordable for everyone earning more than 100% of the Federal Poverty Level. For those below 100% FPL, however, it takes an indirect approach. As I wrote a few weeks ago:
One possible "solution" would have been to simply remove the lower-bound income cut-off point for ACA exchange subsidy eligibility (that is, to lower the threshold from 100% FPL to 0%)...However, this would create two new problems: First, Medicaid is far more comprehensive than nearly all ACA plans...Secondly, if the lower-end subsidy cut-off were removed, it's almost certain that quite a few states which have already expanded the program would reverse themselves and allow Medicaid expansion to expire, in order to save the 10% portion of the cost that they have to pay.