Open Enrollment Begins for Subsidized Health Insurance

‘Obamacare’ plans this year cost less than they did before the pandemic

Doctor meeting patient
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If you don’t have health insurance provided by an employer, here’s your chance to get it from a different source: From now through Jan. 15, enrollment is open on the federal health insurance exchange, and the coverage you can buy is much more affordable than it was before the pandemic hit.

During the open enrollment period, consumers can visit healthcare.gov to sign up for “Obamacare” health insurance plans provided by private insurers. Coverage starts Jan. 1 for plans bought before Dec. 15, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said. (Deadlines may be different in states that operate their own health care exchanges instead of participating in the federal one, though enrollment is currently open in all of them.) The two-and-a-half-month open enrollment period is a month longer than normal.

Premiums for health care plans bought on the federal exchange became much cheaper this year after the American Rescue Plan pandemic relief bill expanded government subsidies, increasing the amount and extending eligibility to people higher up the income ladder. Existing customers who re-enrolled under the new plans earlier this year saved an average of $67 a month on their premiums because of the new subsidies, the Department of Health and Human Services estimated.

Those savings apply to 2022, but the extra subsidies would be extended through 2025 as part of a human infrastructure” spending bill Democratic lawmakers hope to pass.

Correction - Nov. 1, 2021. The last sentence in this story’s second paragraph has been changed to state the correct length of time of the open enrollment period.

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