Reopening Obamacare Exchanges with some free or low-cost plans

Prostock studio | iStock | Getty Images

If you are among the millions of people across the country who don’t have health insurance, you may soon be able to fix this.

A special enrollment period to get a plan through the Affordable Care Act Health Exchange (or your state’s exchange, if you have one) starts Monday and runs through May 15. The reopening is part of an order from President Joe Biden last month of the administration’s effort to expand coverage to more individuals and families in an affordable way.

“If you don’t have coverage, there’s a very good chance you can get free or low-cost coverage,” said Cynthia Cox, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation and director of the ACA program.

“Lots of people can get either Medicaid or a free exchange plan,” said Cox.

Before the pandemic, around 30 million people were already uncovered, a number that has been on an upward trend for several years. In addition, an estimated 2-3 million workers lost employer-related health insurance between March and September last year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Most market participants receive subsidies (technically tax credits) that reduce their premium payments. In addition, they may be eligible for help with other co-payments such as deductibles.

More from Personal Finance:
Covid takes a toll on couples ahead of Valentine’s Day
Avoid tax surprises with health insurance premium credits
Unemployment fraud can create a tax nightmare

An estimated 4 million uninsured people could receive a no-premium plan through the exchange, and an additional 4.9 million could receive subsidies to lower the cost of such a plan, Kaiser said.

Biden is also pushing to increase subsidies under the next economic aid package that Congress is working on. While the current level of assistance can reduce the cost of a plan through sharing it, 45% of those who have looked at it said the cost was higher than expected. This is according to a recent survey conducted by the personal finance website ValuePenguin.com.

The average national unsubsidized premium for a “silver” plan through the ACA exchange is $ 462 per month, according to ehealthinsurance.com. However, this amount varies from place to place. When you qualify for grants, you pay less.

Premium grants are available to families whose income, depending on the size of the household, amounts to 100% to 400% of federal poverty. This equates to an income of $ 12,760 to $ 51,040. For a family of four, it would be $ 26,200 to $ 104,800.

In states where Medicaid has expanded, you may qualify for coverage through the program if your income is no more than 138% of federal poverty. For one person this would mean up to $ 17,609; for a family of four, $ 36,156. It’s also worth noting that if you qualify for Medicaid, you can enroll at any time.

The best place to start if you’re new to the field is Healthcare.gov, where you can create an account and explore your plan options. If your state has its own health exchange, you will be notified on the federal website.

The exchanges are designed as one-stop shopping. You enter information and learn what you qualify for.

Cynthia Cox

Vice President of the Kaiser Family Foundation

If you’d like to do some window shopping without creating an account, there’s a tool on the federal stock exchange (or your state’s website) that lets you enter general information about yourself, including income and number of dependents.

In either case, your financial assistance entitlement will be calculated, whether it is Medicaid or premium grants. In addition, your children can qualify for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) even if you qualify for insurance coverage through the market.

“The exchanges are designed as one-stop shopping,” said Cox. “You enter information and learn what you qualify for.”

Comments are closed.