HEALTHCARE

Free health insurance for unemployed people: what's the deadline to sign up?

The American Rescue Plan included a new programme which will make many Obamacare healthcare policies free for those who receive unemployment benefits in 2021.

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Free health insurance for unemployed people: what's the deadline to sign up?

The American Rescue Plan included new insurance benefits for unemployment Americans which could help millions of people get free health insurance coverage for the rest of the year.

Anyone who has received at least one week of unemployment benefits this year can sign up to receive coverage from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, and enjoy huge discounts on their policy.

Vivian Ho, health economist from Rice University, said that someone on unemployment benefits who has just enrolled in the ACA could stand to knock more than $7,000 off their insurance premium.

She said: “I do think it’ll help some people who are just really in a desperate situation right now. If you’ve lost your job in the middle of this pandemic and you have no income and you’re trying to deal with housing and put food on the table.”

How long do I have to register for the free health insurance?

Although some states chose to begin the process earlier, the national start date for the new programme was 1 July. To take advantage of the savings you have until 15 August to enrol with Marketplace by creating an account with healthcare.gov .

However this deadline applies to those who are eligible for the discounted or free insurance premiums solely due to the covid-19 emergency relief bill. You may qualify for a Special Enrolment Period due to a life event, such as marriage, moving house, having a baby or losing your previous coverage. It is also possible that you qualify for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). In all of these cases, you can enrol at any time.

How much of a discount could I get on my health insurance premiums?

The exact size of the discount on offer will vary for different people and you will only see the range of options once you have submitted your information on the healthcare.gov portal. However most people should be able to reduce the cost of certain ‘silver plan’ policies to zero.

Cynthia Cox, a vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation and director of its Affordable Care Act programme said that most people should be able to see at least a couple of free plans once they have accessed the site. There is also the option to choose a more comprehensive ‘platinum plan’ for a far lower price.

That’s where you get the premium help, and also additional help with [cost-sharing],” Cox added. “And the deductible is so low that it’s more like a ‘platinum plan,’ which is the best you can get.”