Home — Health Biden lengthens Affordable Care Act insurance sign-ups until mid-August

Biden lengthens Affordable Care Act insurance sign-ups until mid-August

by Mary Sewell

“We have a duty not just to protect it but to make it better,” the president said before an audience that included oncologists and cancer researchers. The lengthening of the particular enrollment time reflects Biden’s determination to use the 2010 healthcare law as a fulcrum to expand the number of Americans who have access to affordable insurance and, as a result, to care. From May 15 to August 15, the extension of the deadline also reflects the administration’s hopes that an imminent increase in federal subsidies for ACA health plans will be a potent magnet to attract more Americans to this type of insurance. The $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief plan that Biden signed into law this month contains the first increase since the law’s passage of the subsidies that already help nearly 9 in 10 people with ACA health plans pay for monthly premiums.

Starting April 1, subsidies will become more prominent for people who already qualify. Those tax credits would fully cover premiums for people with incomes of up to about $19,000 for an individual and nearly $40,000 for a family of four — that is, 150 percent of the federal poverty level. And for the first time, the subsidies would reach many in the middle class, who have been among the groups finding ACA health plans unaffordable. The new law ends a rule that had set a ceiling on the premium subsidies, making them unavailable to consumers with incomes of more than $51,000 for an individual and $106,000 for a family of four — 400 percent of the poverty line.

Starting in July, people who receive unemployment benefits — or have filed an unemployment claim any time this year — may qualify for additional reductions of their ACA insurance premium. According to data released Tuesday by the Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated 11 million non-elderly Americans who are uninsured could qualify for discounted or premium-free coverage through the ACA marketplace. The ACA health plans are intended for a niche of people who historically had difficulty finding affordable health insurance before the health plans created under the law started in 2014: those who cannot get affordable health benefits through a job.

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