The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) passed by Congress in March was the most significant advancement in health care affordability since the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Over a million previously uninsured people will have access to care and Americans will save millions of dollars in health care expenses.
But what does this mean for you?
- If you are uninsured, you can purchase health coverage for as little as $1 per month.
- If you are unemployed, you can purchase health coverage for as low as $1 per month, regardless of your income.
- If you already have insurance through the Exchange or if you buy coverage directly through an insurance company, you may qualify for major savings.
- Overall, more people covered means lower health care costs for everyone.
Read on to learn how the ARPA health care premium subsidies can help you afford better coverage here in Washington. Check out a previous blog post to learn all of the ways the ARPA is expanding coverage, including by subsidizing COBRA costs and expanding Medicaid.
With the new ARPA subsidies, starting this year and lasting through 2022, the federal government will:
- Fully subsidize coverage for those earning under 150% of the federal poverty level (FPL – that’s $19,320 for an individual or $39,750 for a family of four);
- Eliminate the subsidy cliff for people above 400% FPL ($51,520 for an individual or $106,000 for a family of four), so that no one who buys coverage on the Exchange will pay more than 8.5% of their income for premiums. This will translate to enormous savings for the people earning above 400% of FPL, who have historically been ineligible for subsidies;
- Expand the definition of who is eligible for subsidies to include anyone who received even one week’s worth of unemployment benefits in 2021. For unemployment recipients, any income above 138% of FPL will be eligible to receive the maximum amount of subsidies. Their premiums will be $1 a month.
Consumers can purchase health coverage through the Special Enrollment Period open now until August 15th on the Washington Healthplanfinder, the Health Benefit Exchange’s online portal. People who are uninsured, recently unemployed, or simply want to buy new coverage can learn about their potential savings and purchase coverage.
The Exchange has released guidance on the potential savings available:
- The uninsured: The American Rescue Plan means most uninsured Washingtonians can buy a high-value Cascade plan for less than $100 a month or basic coverage for as little as $1 per month.
- The unemployed: If you received as little as one week of unemployment income in 2021 and are eligible for premium tax credits, you can purchase coverage for as low as $1 per month, regardless of your income.
- Off-Exchange customers: If you buy your health coverage directly from a health insurance company, you may be able to save thousands of dollars per year if you switch to a similar plan on the Exchange.
Potential savings for you and your family
To find out what your savings will be, visit Washington Healthplanfinder to enroll or, if you already purchase coverage through the Exchange, to ensure your income information is up to date so you can receive the maximum savings. Learn more and check out the ARPA frequently asked questions at the Health Benefit Exchange site here.
Looking ahead, our recently passed state budget will make special subsidies newly available for child care workers with incomes up to 300% of FPL ($38,640 for an individual or $79,500 for a family of four) by November 1st. EOI is helping to guide the implementation of these subsidies, as well as those from the recently passed Cascade Care bill, which created health care premium support for all eligible people under 250% of FPL starting in 2023. We’ll keep you informed about new potential savings for you and your families.
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