April 1, 2021, started the implementation of new and additional tax credits for health insurance purchased through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The March American Rescue Plan provided significant increases in tax credit for people who purchase insurance through the federal or their state ACA exchanges. The beginning of these new credits was April 1. On March 23, President Biden extended a temporary open enrollment period to August 15, 2021, as a result of the pandemic and recession.
Last week HHS announced that between the start of a new pandemic-related open enrollment starting on February 15 through the end of March, 500,000 additional people had enrolled for coverage. Additional census data indicates that of applicants who identified a race, 17% identified as Black – compared to about 11% in both 2020 and 2019 during the same time period. Among consumers requesting financial assistance, 41% report being at or slightly above the federal poverty level, compared to 38% in 2020 and 33% in 2019. These increases all took place before the new tax credits began.
Earlier this month, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra announced $50 million in additional funds to promote both the extended enrollment and the new credits. Under the new credits, 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.
According to information released by HHS, many purchasers on the marketplaces will see their premiums decrease, on average, by $50 per person per month and $85 per policy per month. An average of four out of five consumers currently enrolled in a plan through HealthCare.gov will be able to find a plan for $10 or less per month with the newly expanded financial assistance under the American Rescue Plan. Additionally, after advance payments of the premium tax credits, an average of three out of five uninsured adults eligible for coverage on HealthCare.gov may be able to access a zero-premium plan, and nearly three out of four may find a plan for $50 or less per month on HealthCare.gov.
Becerra’s press statement suggested that current enrollees review their application, make any changes needed to their current information, submit their application, select a plan, or reselect their current plan to receive the increased advance payments of premium tax credits for 2021 Marketplace coverage. Consumers who take action in April and confirm updated savings on the plan of their choice will start receiving the savings and lower costs starting with their May 1 premiums.
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 through
www.HealthCare.gov for step-by-step guidance. Additional assistance can be found through www.CuidadoDeSalud.gov, or people can call the Marketplace Call Center at 1-800-318-2596, which provides assistance in over 150 languages. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325. Consumers can also find a local assister or agent/broker in their area
https://localhelp.healthcare.gov. Consumers who live in a state that operates its own marketplace platform should visit their state marketplace website or call center for more information about when these additional savings will be available through their state-based marketplace.