Get Covered

 

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:

This was apparently decided awhile ago (there was no press release), but I just learned about it today thanks to Louise Norris:

Nevada’s Response to Coronavirus

Nevada Health Link opened a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for uninsured Nevadans, starting February 15 through August 15, 2021. The SEP is in accordance with the Executive Order issued by President Biden last month, in response to the ongoing national emergency presented by COVID-19.

  • Coming soon! Thanks to the recently passed American Rescue Plan, we’ll soon be offering more money to help pay for your coverage. Learn more here.

Visit here to learn more.

A couple of weeks ago, I used the limited COVID Special Enrollment Period (SEP) data I had for HealthCare.Gov from the last two weeks of February, plus some limited SEP data from a handful of state-based ACA exchanges, to extrapolate out a rough estimate of how many new Qualified Health Plan (QHP) selections may have happened nationally.

At the time, I estimated that perhaps 18,500 people were enrolling per day nationally the final two weeks of February, and that IF that pace remained the same throughout the entire month of March, it would amount to upwards of 832,000 new people enrolling by the end of March (666,000 via HealthCare.Gov, plus another 166,000 via the 15 state-based exchanges).

It's important to note that this wasn't a hard estimate--I was pretty sure that the actual enrollment pace would slow down somewhat after the inital surge, at least until expanded subsidies via the American Rescue Plan (ARP) were officially available in most states, which didn't happen until April 1st.

This just in via Connect for Health Colorado:

More Coloradans Than Ever Are Using Colorado’s Exchange to Get Covered

DENVER — In a report released today by Connect for Health Colorado, nearly 180,000 Coloradans signed up for a health insurance plan by the end of the Open Enrollment Period on Jan. 15 for 2021 coverage. The new report includes more detailed information about changes to premium costs and financial help by county, the improved customer experience and our outreach tactics.

The main number here is nothing new; C4HCO had already announced the 180K figure back in January. The report itself contains a ton of key demographic stats & details, however, which I'll get to below.

I last updated my Michigan Medicaid expansion tracking back in January.At the time, I noted that enrollment in this ACA programhas increased dramatically here in Michigan since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, increasing from 673,000 in February 2020 to 853,000 as of January 2021, or nearly 27% in less than one year.

As of April 5th, the Healthy Michigan program (that's the branding of Michigan's ACA Medicaid expansion) notes 897,261 enrollees. That's a net increase of 224,000 Michiganders enrolled in the program since last February, or over 33%.

With this as backdrop, consider the timing of the following events:

The Kaiser Family Foundation has updated their estimated breakout of the entire uninsured population of the United States as of 2019, and what sort of healthcare coverage they're eligible for thanks to the Affordable Care Act and the American Rescue Plan's expanded/enhanced subsidies.

Obviously a lot has changed since then, primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but I presume this is the most recent comprehensive, reliable data they've been able to compile:

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.

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.

Last month I posted an explainer with a bunch of colorful graphs & charts explaining how much various households could save thanks to the expanded/enhanced ACA subsidies included with the American Rescue Plan. I included 8 different households, using the national average ACA benchmark plan premium for 2021:

  • Single Adults age 26, 40, 50 and 64
  • Single Parent; Nuclear Family; Empty Nesters w/College-age kid; 60-yr old couple

Here's how much the "Nuclear Family of four" example (40-yr old ocuple with 2 children) would theoretically save, assuming they choose the avg. national benchmark Silver plan:

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.

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.

via New York State of Health:

NY State of Health Begins Notifying Over 140,000 Consumers Their Tax Credits are Available and How to Claim Them

ALBANY, N.Y. (March 31, 2021) – NY State of Health, the state’s official health plan Marketplace, today announced, increased financial assistance is now available to current and new consumers enrolling in a health plan through NY State of Health.  NY State of Health began notifying consumers today of their higher tax credit amounts and how to apply them to further lower the cost of coverage. This financial assistance is being implemented as part of  the American Rescue Plan signed into law on March 11, 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.

via New York State of Health:

How NY State of Health Enrollees Benefit from the American Rescue Plan

The American Rescue Plan, which was signed into law on March 11, 2021, will lower health care costs by providing new and expanded financial assistance to New Yorkers enrolling in health insurance through NY State of Health. This enhanced assistance is available to current enrollees and new enrollees, including to higher-income individuals for the first time. Starting in early April, individuals with low and moderate incomes can access higher tax credits. Starting in June, NY State of Health will apply these higher tax credits to current enrollees without requiring any action by the enrollee. Also in June, higher-income New Yorkers can access the new tax credits.

The information on this page is organized into six sections. Click the section from the following list to learn how the American Rescue Plan can help you:

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

HealthSource RI becomes the latest state-based exchange to jump onboard the August 15th train...

Governor McKee and HealthSource RI Announce New Enrollment Period Extended Through August 15

  • Historic level of financial assistance is now available through HealthSource RI.
  • New Enrollment Period has been extended through August 15, 2021, adding three months to the previous May 15, 2021 deadline.
  • Starting April 1, most HSRI customers will have a lower monthly bill.
  • Beginning in summer 2021, HSRI will make more financial assistance available to people who previously did not qualify to receive it based on their income.
  • Individuals and families who have received unemployment payments in 2021 will be newly eligible for additional financial help for this year or may qualify for health coverage at no cost.
  • Rhode Islanders should enroll in coverage as soon as possible to take full advantage of these new benefits. 
  • The deadline to enroll is August 15, 2021.

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.

Today, at their monthly board meeting, Pennie provided some further info on how they plan to proceed:

Pennie’s American Rescue Plan Policy Goals

  • Implement ARP provisions as soon as possible, and as broadly as possible, to maximize savings for Pennie customers
  • Automate these provisions, to the extent possible, to ensure that the benefits under the new law reach Pennie customers without requiring customer action
  • Ensure that customers who need to take an action are given specific instructions on what they need to do to maximize their benefits
  • Use this unique opportunity to connect more Pennsylvanians to comprehensive coverage and reduce the number of uninsured throughout the Commonwealth

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.

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):

via Connect for Health Colorado:

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.”

A lot has happened since I last ran some back-of-the-envelope math to get a feel for how many Americans are enrolling in ACA exchange policies durign the 2021 COVID Enrollment Period, which started in most states on February 15th.

At the time, HealthCare.Gov had reported 206,000 Qualified Health Plan (QHP) selections as of February 28th. I also had some partial COVID SEP data from a handful of the state-based ACA exchanges, as of various dates. I had 225,000 QHPs confirmed nationally.

At the time, I concluded that based on the enrollment pace of the first few weeks...

As noted above, Medicaid expansion states have only increased average SEP enrollment by around 2/3 as much as Non-expansion states. Since all 15 state-based exchanges have expanded Medicaid, this suggests that the 206K via HC.gov probably represents more like 80% of the total, meaning perhaps 258,000 nationally (~168,000 more than average).

Thursday, March 18th:

Launching a new special-enrollment period – Covered California will open a new special-enrollment period – which will start on Monday, April 12 and run through the end of the year – to give uninsured and unsubsidized Californians time to sign up for coverage that starts as soon as May 1 and continue the outreach and enrollment effort to have marketing pay-off over time.

4:35pm this afternoon:

Today, President Biden announced that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is extending access to the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) until August 15 – giving consumers additional time to take advantage of new savings through the American Rescue Plan. This action provides new and current enrollees an additional three months to enroll or re-evaluate their coverage needs with increased tax credits available to reduce premiums.

June 16, 2020:

On March 20th, the Vermont Health Connect ACA exchange joined other state-based exchanges in launching a formal COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period.

On April 15th, just ahead of the original SEP deadline, they bumped it out by a month.

Then, with the May deadline approaching, I took a look and sure enough, they've bumped it out another month.

And now, with the June deadline having come and gone...

Due to the COVID-19 emergency, Vermont Health Connect has opened a Special Enrollment Period until August 14, 2020.

I admit that this is starting to get a bit silly. At a certain point I'm guessing at least one of the state exchanges will just say "screw it" and open 2020 enrollment up for the full year.

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