AmRescuePlan

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.

This just in via the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS):

2021 Marketplace Special Enrollment Period Report

February 15 – March 31, 2021

The date on this press release is April 1st, but I didn't see it on the MD Connect website until today:

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:

via MNsure:

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.

Gold Bars

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.

Breaking via the Washington Healthplanfinder:

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.

This morning, Vox reporter Dylan Scott posted a story touting exclusive access to a new ASPE analysis which estimates nearly 7 million uninsured Americans who now qualify for a FREE ($0 premium) ACA health insurance policy, in large part thanks to the American Rescue Plan's expanded subsidies:

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.

Here's the formal kick-off announcement from HHS Sec. Becerra:

  • 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.

New York State of Health

It's been awhile since I've written anything about the ACA's Basic Health Plan (BHP) provision. BHP is a program which every state has the option of taking advantage of, but so far only two have: Minnesota and New York State. I'll let Louise Norris explain:

Under the ACA, most states have expanded Medicaid to people with income up to 138 percent of the poverty level. But people with incomes very close to the Medicaid eligibility cutoff frequently experience changes in income that result in switching from Medicaid to ACA’s qualified health plans (QHPs) and back. This “churning” creates fluctuating healthcare costs and premiums, and increased administrative work for the insureds, the QHP carriers and Medicaid programs.

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.

In what's become a pretty expected move, the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange is also extending their COVID SEP out thru mid-August:

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

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