Free health insurance for unemployed Americans: who is eligible?
The American Rescue Plan included a new programme which will make free health insurance available for the majority of those who claim jobless support in 2021.
Out of work Americans could be in line for some huge discounts on health insurance coverage after a new programme makes it easier for unemployed people to get a policy provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
This new benefit was included in the American Rescue Plan but it only went live nationally from 1 July. Unemployed individuals have until 15 August to make the most of the programme. To be eligible for the support you simply need to have claimed at least one week of unemployment benefits payments during 2021.
However even past the 15 August deadline you could still take advantage of the free health insurance if you fit some of the other eligibility requirements. The Obamacare discount is permanently available for those who undergo a key life event, such as marriage, moving house, having a baby or the sudden loss of your previous coverage.
Will I be able to access the free health insurance plans?
The actual price of the policies on offer will vary based on your personal situation and the type of advanced tax credits that you are eligible for, but the majority of unemployed Americans will be able to access some of the free plans.
What the new programme actually offers is a substantial discount on the existing ACA plans. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services says that roughly 60% of uninsured, unemployed Americans will qualify for a free plan; while around 80% will be able to access a plan that is no more than $10 per month.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said was optimistic about the new programme, saying it will help provide “relief to millions of families who need to access health insurance coverage because they have been impacted by job losses or underemployment during the pandemic.”
He added: “The Administration has made it easier than ever for Americans to enrol in an affordable, comprehensive health insurance plans through HealthCare.gov thanks to the increased financial assistance provided through the American Rescue Plan."
How to sign up for the free health insurance plans
The registration process for the heavily discounted health insurance is all done through the healthcare.gov online portal, which will be open for unemployment recipients until 15 August.
To access the list of policy options you will first have to make an account when prompted on the link above. You will need to provide your home state and email address to create your account, before filling in your personal and employment details to find out how big your discount will be.