Lower health insurance costs are possible with the American Rescue Plan
On 1 July, benefits from the American Rescue Plan made health insurance more affordable. How qualifies and how much will they bring down premiums?
In 2019, fifty percent of Americans got their health insurance through their employer, a policy type known as Group Instance. An additional thirteen percent purchased private insurance on the open market, known as Non-Group Insurance.
Those who are provided health insurance through the government through the Department of Veterans Administration, Medicare, and Medicaid/CHIP, represent around forty-two percent of the population.
The United States is the only major country that does not provide health care as a right for its citizens. With the largest percentage of those in the US receiving insurance through their employer, the pandemic and the massive wave of layoffs that followed left millions without coverage.
To help those who lost their jobs, lawmakers included provisions in the American Rescue Plan to make health care more affordable. According to healthcare.gov, the trillion-dollar spending bill widened the eligibility to receive government support for covering the cost of insurance.
Additionally, those who purchased insurance through the Marketplace “may qualify for more tax credits,” which could help bring down the cost for families who may be experiencing financial hardship.
What health care benefits am I eligible for if I received unemployment compensation?
The American Rescue Plan included a measure to provide subsidize insurance for families who had received unemployment benefits “for at least one week in 2021.” The benefits can cover “the entire monthly premium for the second-lowest cost Silver plan (SLCSP) that’s available to you in your area, regardless of your household’s income.”
"The amount you pay for your health insurance every month. In addition to your premium, you usually have to pay other costs for your health care, including a deductible, copayments, and coinsurance. If you have a Marketplace health plan, you may be able to lower your costs with a premium tax credit."
The health care Marketplace categorizes plans using the metal scale, with Bronze plans covering the smallest number of health care costs, while Platinum covers the most.
What metal tiers cover what percentage of costs?
- Platinum -- Covers 90%, you pay 10%
- Gold -- Covers 80%, you pay 20%
- Sliver -- Covers 70%, you pay 30%
- Bronze -- Covers 60%, you pay 40%
The credits apply to Silver plans which require members to pay around twenty percent of their healthcare costs. In 2020, the cost of a Silver plan depended on location, but the average for a family of four was $1,212 a month.
The benefits families receiving through the American Rescue Plan would bring this down to zero. However, families would be responsible for other costs, including deductibles, copays, and prescriptions.
The Department of Health and Human Services has estimated these credits will lead to a drop in the cost of premiums averaging around “$50 per person per month and $85 per policy per month. Also, for those looking for a Silver plan, the agency stated that fifty percent of enrollees “will be able to find a Silver plan for $10 or less per month,” after the credits are applied. This up for fourteen percent compared to prices before the passage of the American Rescue Plan. These benefits became available on 1 July.
For those interested in taking advantage, your first step should be to visit healthcare.gov and fill out an application. The site advises those who ”haven’t updated your application since June 30, 2021,” to do so, and by providing income current income information, the rate of the plans available may have changed.
Are there any benefits available to those on COBRA?
While millions lost their jobs, many more had their hours cut, forcing them to purchase health insurance as they no longer qualified for their employer-based insurance.
For those who had their hours cut and became eligible for COBRA, you may qualify for help paying for your COBRA premiums (called “premium assistance”) from April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021.”
To check if you qualify, healthcare.gov recommends that one contact their employer or previous employer to receive a “written notice of your eligibility for COBRA premium assistance.”
Families with children
If an unemployed worker is not receiving the weekly $300 federal unemployment benefit, your family may qualify for Medicaid or the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). To figure out if you or your family are eligible to participate in these programs, you may submit an application to your state.
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