By Consumers For Quality Care, on April 28, 2021
According to The New York Times, the stimulus package signed by President Biden in March will provide new options for Americans who need health insurance, and new resources to help lower costs for those already insured. Most of the changes apply to those who buy their own insurance, the uninsured, and those who have recently lost coverage due to a layoff.
All of the programs are temporary, and none last longer than two years. While these programs can be complicated for consumers to navigate, The Times report answered some of the most common questions about the financial assistance available for people without coverage and discounts available for those already covered.
Notably, for those who need health insurance and are currently collecting unemployment insurance benefits, the bill provides short-term subsidies to buy coverage on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplaces. The tax credits that help you buy insurance will be higher than ever before. Patients will also qualify for a free silver plan with bonus coverage that lowers your deductible and co-payments for the rest of the year.
In addition, if you earn more than 400 percent of the federal poverty level (about $51,000 for a single person or $104,000 for a family of hour), you will qualify for help buying insurance for the first time. Those who live in states who have not expanded Medicaid will still be eligible for a free silver marketplace plan even if they would not normally meet the income requirements.
If you just lost your job-based coverage, including through reduced hours, you now can qualify for up to six months of free COBRA coverage, instead of paying the full price as you would have before the new law. This coverage, however, ends September 30th.
For consumers who currently have ACA insurance, there are additional subsidies to lower the cost, including retroactive subsidies to January 1st, for two years.
Those who bought a short-term, limited-duration or health-sharing ministry plan should consider a switch in insurance type, as new subsidies could cut the cost of insurance by more than half. ACA plans also cover a broader array of benefits and can’t deny your claims based on pre-existing conditions.