Window Closes Soon on Cheaper Obamacare Plans for 2021

Young doctor using a digital tablet during a consultation with a senior woman
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A special window to sign up for reduced-priced health insurance this year closes on Aug. 15 in most states, so if you need coverage, don’t miss your chance to check the government-run marketplace created by Obamacare.

Because of a provision of the American Rescue Plan that boosted and expanded the eligibility of the government subsidies available through the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare,  healthcare plans on the marketplace are available at reduced cost through 2022 for many consumers. The government is picking up a larger share of insurance premiums for those earning up to four times the federal poverty level ($51,040 for a one-person household) and, for the first time, subsidizing coverage for people who earn more than that. In addition, people who collected unemployment in 2021 can receive free or nearly free coverage in most cases.  

The enrollment period for government-subsidized health plans usually lasts from November through mid-December, but the government created a special sign-up window beginning in February this year because of the pandemic-triggered economic downturn. Those who miss the Aug. 15 deadline can still get the savings, but only for next year. Open enrollment for 2022 begins on Nov. 1. 

The Aug. 15 deadline to enroll for 2021 coverage, which would begin as soon as the month after applicants select a plan, applies to the 36 states that use the www.healthcare.gov marketplace as well as most other states that operate their own healthcare exchanges. New Jersey, New York, and California have extended the deadline to the end of the year, and the deadlines for Idaho, Massachusetts and Minnesota have already expired.

Among people who already had Obamacare plans, customers are saving an average of 40% on their monthly premiums because of the American Rescue Plan subsidies, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said last week. Thirty-four percent of new and returning customers got coverage for $10 a month or less on www.healthcare.gov.

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