Starting April 1, uninsured or self-insured Americans may qualify for significant new savings provided by the federal relief bill signed into law March 11. The pandemic Open Enrollment period launched by President Biden continues through May 15. You can see your options at HealthCare.gov or by calling 1-800-318-2596.

The American Recovery Plan includes a major two-year expansion in federal subsidies to reduce premium costs. Citizens and legal immigrants will be able to get plans and pay no more than 8.5% of their income. The law removes the “subsidy cliff” that has kept millions of Americans who make more than 400% of the federal poverty level from being able to afford insurance.  Over 93,000 uninsured Ohioans qualify for premium help for the first time because of the new law. This federal fact sheet explains the expanded help provided by the American Recovery Plan.

In addition, the federal government will pay six months of COBRA premiums for people who lost their jobs through the pandemic. Learn more

The Kaiser Family Foundation has updated its calculator in both English and Spanish so you can see how the new provisions would affect your monthly premium costs.

If you already have a 2021 Marketplace plan through HealthCare.gov, please log in after April 1 or call the Marketplace at 800-318-2596 to see if your share of premium costs has dropped. During the Open Enrollment period which runs through May 15, you can enroll or change plans. With subsidies now larger, HHS recommends you check to see if you qualify for extra help, including reducing your deductible and co-payments. To get cost-sharing reductions, you must choose a silver plan.

Ohio has a team of federally-qualified Navigators, HRS Erase Navigators, LLC, who can give you unbiased, free advice over the phone: 937-336-6623. You can also find local help through a link at the bottom of the home page of HealthCare.gov. If you don’t adjust your premiums on HealthCare.gov, you can recoup any additional premium savings you are eligible for when you complete your 2021 tax return.

This expanded aid continues through 2022. As this Kaiser Family Foundation graph shows, the changes will be especially helpful to older adults making just over 400% of poverty ($51,040), who were facing costs as high as 20% of their income before because the financial help provided by the ACA ended at 400% of the federal poverty level.

Advocacy briefings are compiled by Ariel Miller, a member of Ascension & Holy Trinity, Wyoming,  and a member of the diocesan Becoming Beloved Community Leadership Team.