The COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of people who have lost their job due to this global pandemic and are now struggling to afford health insurance. However, a lifeline has been offered to the uninsured through the American Rescue Plan that provides free health insurance to people who lost their jobs in this pandemic. The free health insurance plans became available from July 1 and will be available through the end of 2021. There are no income limits for individuals to be eligible for free health insurance. The only eligibility criterion is that individuals either must have received or approved for unemployment benefits during 2021. The free health insurance plans will be administered through HealthCare.gov, a marketplace established under the ACA or Obamacare.
The stimulus package is offered with ACA’s Silver plans that will be available for the beneficiaries at a $0 monthly premium. This will turn out to be a huge saving for the jobless uninsured, as this year ACA’s plan premium is $542 a month, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. These free health plans are offered by private health insurance carriers and these plans have either low or no copayments or deductibles. The Director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said that they are making the best effort to remove financial barriers coming on the way to obtain comprehensive healthcare.
With the pandemic lingering in the U.S., the unemployment rate remained high this year, thus a massive number of Americans can take advantage of the free health care benefits. Nearly 3.5 million Americans are unemployed, as per the government report and the uninsured Americans who have this year received unemployment compensation need to register on HealthCare.gov so that they can shop for a free plan on the site. However, these individuals need to sign up by August 15, as the COVID-19 special enrollment period will end on this day. The income limits required for Obamacare coverage have been waived by the ACA. However, individuals or their spouses who may receive insurance from their employers or through Medicare or Medicaid may not qualify for this plan.
The program is announced at an opportune time for Americans who have been largely impacted by the pandemic and still struggling to find some health coverage option. As per the data revealed by the National Health Interview Survey, around 15% of U.S. adults between the ages of 18 to 64 years don’t have health insurance. Most Americans have availed the benefits of the Biden Administration’s decision of launching a special open enrollment period for ACA’s plan coverage. Around 1 million Americans have already signed up during the first ten weeks of the special period. Almost half of the new enrollees purchased health coverage in April after billions of dollars were added in subsidies by Congress in the stimulus package.
Though, the free coverage benefit clubbed with unemployment benefits will end in December but the American Rescue Plan will provide health coverage at reduced cost at least through 2022. Thus, individuals will have to decide that whether they will stick with the Obamacare plan after this year or not. Individuals enrolled in health insurance plans through healthCare.gov are not paying more than 8.5% of their income on health insurance which is down from the previous 10% ceiling. Thus, an individual who is earning more than $51,000 is now saving an additional $1,000 every month. The Kaiser Family Foundation released a survey in June that discovered low awareness among the people of the new health insurance discounts. Around 81% of the Americans were either unaware of the assistance program or were not sure about it. Just 1% of the surveyed people had checked online their scope for cheaper health plans.