On Tuesday, March 23, 2021, President Biden celebrated the 11th anniversary of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by extending the current open enrollment until August 15, 2021. The announcement extends a special pandemic-related enrollment period that had started on February 15 and was to last until May 15, 2021. It is also an attempt to reverse some of the Trump Administration’s actions over its four years by limiting enrollment periods, cutting back on the customer navigator programs and funding, and allowing for the purchase of lower-cost, more limited health insurance coverage policies.
Last month, the Administration announced that the number of consumers who chose coverage through HealthCare.gov from February 15 through February 28 totaled 206,236. That was approximately three times higher than during the same period in 2020 and 3 1/2 times greater than in 2019. The real impact of this new window for customers may not be felt until April, when new and expanded tax credits will take effect. The March COVID-19/American Rescue Plan includes expanded tax credits that will result in reduced monthly insurance premiums.
No ACA marketplace enrollee would spend more than 8.5 percent of their income on premiums if they are at 400 percent of poverty or lower. People with income below 150 percent of the poverty line (about $19,000 for a single person and $39,000 for a family of four) would pay no premiums for a middle-level ACA plan. For a family of four premiums would decrease on a monthly basis by: income of $45,000 (171% FPL) premiums decrease from $193 to $32/per month; income of $60,000 (229% FPL) premiums decrease from $379 to $158/per month; income of $90,000 (343% FPL) premiums decrease from $737 to $531/per month; income of $120,000 (458% FPL) from $1,445 to $850/per month. HHS also announced that, as a result of that same COVID relief measure, starting in July of this year, people who received unemployment benefits or who have filed an unemployment claim any time this year may qualify for reduced ACA premiums as a result of that status.
The national ACA marketplace is used by 36 states, with the remaining states using their own exchange/website. Regardless people are eligible for the same ACA tax credits. Most of the states running their own systems have kept their marketplaces open. People are able to update their coverage if the new tax credits may cause their current premiums to decrease.
While Biden celebrated the ACA anniversary, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra released a statement that said in part, “In the eleven years since it became law, the Affordable Care Act has saved lives, brought down health care costs, and expanded Medicaid to our most vulnerable neighbors. The lifesaving law has been a game changer, protecting roughly 133 million people with pre-existing conditions and extending quality, affordable health care to millions more.”
Becerra also highlighted the April 1 expansion of tax credits, saying that four out of five enrollees will be able to qualify for coverage for as little as $10 per month. The Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for Marketplace Affordable Care Act (ACA) that opened on February 15 and now continues through August 15, 2021, can be accessed, and eligible families can submit new applications or update an existing application, Go to www.HealthCare.gov for step-by-step guidance.