With apologies to Steve Miller Band, time keeps on slipping into the future… at least when it comes to signing up for an individual health insurance plan on healthcare.gov during a RARE special enrollment period that only lasts through Aug. 15, 2021.
Fly Like an Eagle… To Healthcare.gov
If you or someone you know doesn’t have health insurance right now and isn’t offered coverage by their employer, there is a solution. Normally, you can only sign up for healthcare coverage outside of the annual Open Enrollment Period at the end of the year if you have a big life change to your marital status, family size, etc. But this Special Enrollment Period is open to anyone who doesn’t get a federally qualified coverage offer through work and needs health insurance.
So, my advice is to fly to healthcare.gov and see what you are eligible for. Watch this video where I walk you through determining what your healthcare.gov advanced tax credit (that’s the financial aid to help you buy your health plan) might be.
Take the Money and Run
To switch to another Steve Miller Band classic, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), added a lot of funding to the healthcare.gov subsidy pool. I’ve written several posts about these benefits, so click the links below to learn more details. But in short…
- ARPA lowers all the premiums people pay at all income levels for individual health insurance, including doing away with the 400% limit on federal assistance. That is being replaced by capping what someone pays for an individual health plan equal to no more than 8.5% of their income — no matter how much money the applicant makes! This could, for example, allow a person making $100,000 a year to still get federal assistance to pay for his/her healthcare coverage.
- It creates a new unemployment benefit for everyone who has lost a job via a FREE healthcare.gov benchmark silver plan. This means you can have a (second-cheapest) silver plan on healthcare.gov at $0 premium. That’s good news, with so many record numbers of people being unemployed in the past year.
- It eliminates the first $10,000+ of unemployment insurance payments you received during 2020 from your income for tax purposes. This will allow you to qualify for healthcare.gov premium financial assistance using a lower reported income, which typically earns you more assistance to pay for your health plan.
- And speaking of tax credits, typically, if you qualify for them to help you pay your premiums on healthcare.gov, the full amount of those credits to use throughout the year is based on your personal estimate of your income. This could leave you vulnerable to owing the IRS money if you underestimated how much money you were going to make in a given year. This bill eliminates that for the 2020 tax year. If you’ve already filed your taxes and paid back an amount you paid in, you should get that money back sometime in 2021.
Straight Talk is… time is slipping away to take advantage of healthcare that’s much more affordable than it’s ever been for many Louisianians. I’d really encourage everyone to create a healthcare.gov account and see what’s available to you. There are probably more options that cost a lot less than you think.
If you have questions or aren’t sure where to get started, you can speak for free with one of our trained advisers about your options. Call 1-844-GET-BLUE to talk to a pro. It doesn’t cost you anything and it doesn’t come with any strings attached.
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