Aug. 15 is the final day to apply for 2021 health insurance available through the Health Care Marketplace. The private insurance option of what is often called Obamacare. Due to the ongoing pandemic, Congress has temporarily increased subsidies for individuals, lowering the costs of most plans.
That’s a result of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, signed into law in March, which provides funds that will lower or eliminate premiums, deductibles and copays. With the subsidies, an estimated four out of five enrollees will be eligible for plans that cost $10 a month or less.
In addition, anyone who received unemployment benefits at any time in 2021 is eligible to be insured with no premiums for the remainder of the year.
The new pandemic-era rules also remove income limits for financial assistance toward individually purchased plans. Now, the amount anyone pays for such a plan can be no more than 8.5% of their income.
“People whose income was near 400% of poverty level [roughly $100,000 for a family of four] may see some of the largest changes,” Brown said. “They previously may have only qualified for a small subsidy. Now, their monthly insurance payment could be cut in half.”
However, subsidies are not generally available to people who can get health insurance through their employers.
For everyone else, subsidies for current enrollees are retroactive to the beginning of this calendar year. They can also be claimed as tax refunds when people file their 2021 tax returns.
If you already have a Marketplace plan, log in to update your application and enrollment. Your new eligibility results will show you the extra tax credit amount. You may be able to choose a plan with lower out-of-pocket costs for the same price or less than what you’re currently paying — but note that your yearly deductible, if you have one, may start over, meaning whatever you’ve already paid won’t count.
At a minimum, all plans offered in the Marketplace must cover emergency services, hospitalization, pregnancy and maternity care, mental health and substance abuse counseling, prescription drugs, rehabilitative care for people with chronic conditions or injury, laboratory services, preventative and wellness visits and pediatric care.