By: Covered California News Service
California — More money for more people equals more and better health insurance coverage for millions of Californians and consumers nationwide — especially vital during this age of COVID-19.
That’s the upshot of President Joe Biden’s recently passed $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, with health care provisions containing new and expanded financial help to benefit an estimated 3 million Californians, among the 25 million Americans who qualify. The new financial help will greatly reduce monthly health care costs, making health care coverage more affordable and generating savings of hundreds of dollars each month.
Covered California is poised to take a leadership role in ensuring that consumers take full advantage of this unique opportunity that expands the federal Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and reap the benefits of these new health care funds.
“The new and expanded financial help provided by the American Rescue Plan is a very big deal for millions of Americans,” said Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California. “These new subsidies will help more people get covered, lower health care premium costs and put money back into people’s pockets when they sign up for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act.”
Additionally, Covered California announced that it’s opening its doors to enroll as many uninsured people as possible into health plans between April and the end of December 2021, because of these American Rescue Plan’s health care provisions. Major efforts will also launch to recruit consumers who now have expensive health coverage outside of Covered California and haven’t been able to get financial help in the past.
Answers to some common questions about the new health care provisions in the American Rescue Plan are below.
Q. Who benefits from the American Rescue Plan’s health care provisions?
A. There are three key categories of Californians who can benefit from the new health care provisions in the American Rescue Plan. They are:
Individuals who are currently uninsured and are eligible for the new financial help through Covered California, with many qualifying for $1 dollar health plans.
Individuals who are currently have health coverage directly through an insurer outside of Covered California and are now eligible for financial help for the first time. These consumers may be able to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars by switching to the same or similar health coverage through Covered California.
Individuals who are currently insured in Covered California health plans and are now eligible for more financial help.
An estimated 1.2 million currently uninsured Californians can get health coverage that is more affordable than ever before. The American Rescue Plan reduces consumers’ monthly health coverage costs so that no one will have to pay more than 8.5 percent of their household income on health care premiums.
The deals don’t stop there. About 1.4 million consumers who are already enrolled through Covered California will get even more financial assistance. These consumers will see their monthly premiums decrease by an average of $119 per household per month.
Another 430,000 Californians who are insured directly through a health insurance company and are not now getting financial help can see dramatic savings if they switch to Covered California health plans.
Q. When will the new financial help and savings be available?
A. Covered California is opening a new special-enrollment period on April 12 that runs through December 31, 2021, and consumers can see savings reflected on their monthly health care bills as soon as May 1 if they enroll by April 30.
Q. What do I need to do to get these savings?
A. Existing consumers in California do not need to take any action since Covered California will automatically apply the savings to their accounts. They will see lower health care bills starting in May.
Those who currently don’t have health coverage through Covered California can enroll through December 31, 2021 to benefit from this round of new financial help. This includes those consumers who currently are insured through an insurer outside of Covered California and are now eligible to get financial assistance for the first time and switch to more affordable plans.
Q. How long will my health care premium costs stay this low?
A. The reduced health care premiums under the American Rescue Plan will remain in place for all of 2021 and all of 2022, unless Congress extends or makes these provisions permanent.
Q. What are some other benefits of having Covered California health plans?
A. Covered California health plans cover all COVID-19 vaccinations and testing, as well as any medical treatment necessary due to COVID-19 at no charge or minimal co-payments.
In addition, all Covered California health plans must offer essential benefits under the Affordable Care Act that range from maternity care and hospitalizations to preventive and mental health care. Free preventive health care includes annual check ups with your doctor and screenings for diabetes, cancer, and high blood pressure.
Q. If you have low household income or no income at all, can you still get health coverage?
A. Yes, you can enroll in quality health plans at no cost or very low cost through California’s Medi-Cal program, if you have lower incomes. Medi-Cal enrollment is year-round.
Q. How do you enroll in Covered California or Medi-Cal?
A. Covered California will launch a new “Shop and Compare” tool on April 12 on CoveredCA.com that will allow consumers to easily see exactly how they will benefit from the new law. People will be able to see how much new financial help they are eligible for in just a few minutes by entering their ZIP code, household income and the ages of the people in the household.
Those interested in learning more about their health coverage options can also:
Get local help with free and confidential assistance, in a variety of languages, from a certified enroller.
Have a certified enroller call them and help them for free.
Call Covered California at (800) 300-1506.