COVID19

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:

A couple of weeks ago I noted that all 11 California health insurance carriers participating on the state's ACA exchange, CoveredCA.com, have agreed not to reset deductibles for current off-exchange enrollees who shift to an on-exchange plan during the ongoing COVID Enrollment Period.

This is a HUGE deal, especially in California, where an estimated 430,000 residents are enrolled in off-exchange ACA policies which are virtually identical to their on-exchange equivalent, with the sole distinction of those enrolled in them not being eligible for ACA subsidies.

With subsidies being beefed up and the 400% FPL subsidy cliff having been killed (for the next 2 years, at least), this means that hundreds of thousands of Californians have just become eligible for thousands of dollars in savings...as long as they transition to the same plan on-exchange.

via Nevada Health Link:

The Division of Insurance (“Division”) encourages all Nevadans to take advantage of the new saving opportunities offered by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (“ARPA”). The ARPA, enacted earlier this month, creates more opportunities for Nevadans to save on health insurance coverage.

“I urge consumers, especially those who have off-exchange plans, have no insurance or have found themselves uninsured to start thinking now about how they can benefit from this new law because certain benefits in the ARPA have deadlines,” said Insurance Commissioner Barbara Richardson. “Each month that a consumer does not take advantage of these new low or no cost opportunities, they are leaving money on the table.”

The ARPA will lower monthly premium costs; increase subsidy eligibility for consumers making above the 400% of the Federal Poverty Level; provide options for people who are on unemployment for $0 premium plans; and it will provide 100% COBRA subsidy for six months.

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

A picture is worth 1,000 words and all that.

I've done my best to label every state/territory, which obviously isn't easy to do for most of them given how tangled it gets in the middle. For cases per capita, the most obvious point is that New York and New Jersey, which towered over every other state last spring, are now dwarfed by North & South Dakota, although things are pretty horrible nearly everywhere now.

1 out of every 8 residents of North Dakota, South Dakota and Rhode Island have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past year.

1 out of every 9 residents of Utah, Iowa, Tennessee and Arizona have tested positive.

1 out of 10 in Oklahoma Arkansas, Nebraska, South Carolina, Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, Indiana and Idaho.

1 out of 20 in every state except Washington, Oregon, Maine, Vermont and Hawaii.

Last week the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange issued a press release touting impressive enrollment numbers over the past year via their year-long COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period (SEP). The topline number was that they enrolled over 140,000 Maryland residents in either ACA exchange policies or Medicaid.

Since Medicaid enrollment is open year-round anyway, the number I'm obviously more interested in are the exchange plans, which most people can normally only enroll in during the official Open Enrollment Period each fall/winter. Since COVID has thrown that mostly into disarray, however, I've been keeping a close eye on SEP enrollment in 2020 and now in spring of 2021 as compared to the pre-COVID era, when the SEP rules were far more strictly adhered to.

via Nevada Health Link:

Statement re: 11th Anniversary of the Affordable Care Act
Heather Korbulic, executive director, Silver State Health Insurance Exchange

Tomorrow, March 23, 2021, marks 11 years since the passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the landmark reform law that is credited with increasing access to quality healthcare for millions of Americans, forever changing the national healthcare landscape.

Here in Nevada, the ACA is responsible for the creation and ongoing operations of the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange that has provided healthcare coverage to hundreds of thousands of Nevadans who would otherwise be without coverage to receive essential and critical healthcare services. Since the passage of the ACA and the implementation of Nevada Health Link, the Exchange’s online marketplace for ACA-compliant insurance plans, Nevada's number of uninsured has decreased from a staggering 23 percent to 11 percent.

Thanks to Andrew Sprung for the heads up. Via Get Covered New Jersey:

The American Rescue Plan & Additional Financial Relief

The federal government recently passed a COVID-19 relief bill, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which was signed into law by President Biden on March 11, 2021. The new law will reduce health insurance premiums by providing more financial help to eligible consumers who purchase a plan through Get Covered New Jersey. Get Covered New Jersey is working to implement the changes and update its system to ensure that New Jerseyans receive this relief as soon as possible.

More people than ever will qualify for financial help. If you did not qualify for financial help before because your income was too high, you may qualify under the federal changes. If you already receive financial help, you will likely be eligible for additional premium reductions. These new changes make coverage more affordable at many income levels.

Covered California

Yesterday's press release from Covered California included a TON of important information about how they're handling the massive subsidy upgrade/expansion under the American Rescue Plan, but it left out one other critically important item which was caught by Inside Health Policy reporter Amy Lotven:

Insurers participating in Covered California have agreed to help move their off-exchange individual plan enrollees into the marketplace so they can benefit from the new Affordable Care Act subsidies available under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and will not reset the deductibles, Covered California Executive Director Peter Lee said Thursday (March 18) in a webinar with reporters and key stakeholders.

...Off-exchange enrollees could get an average $500 premium drop, which means they could save as much as $12,000 under the two-year provision, Lee says. About 430,000 Californians and 1.5 million people nationally who are enrolled off-exchange plans are newly eligible for help, the exchange estimates.

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