During the pandemic especially, millions of Americans became uninsured, lost their jobs, or both, this amount then piled upon the number of Americans who were already uninsured or underinsured. More than 9.5 million people have lost their jobs and 4 million of those were out of a job for at least half a year or more. High levels of uninsured and underinsured people during a health crisis such as COVID can be more than detrimental.
The American Rescue Plan is a plan created to help provide relief for American’s who have suffered during the COVID crisis and help more Americans become insured. While temporary as of now, the plan includes expanding the Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies, new COBRA subsidies, relief from premium tax credit clawback, and additional Medicaid coverage.
Before the modifications, many people made too much to qualify for assistance, but did not make enough to pay for the premiums, now those who are covered by the ACA whose incomes are between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level are eligible to have lowered subsidies down to $50 per month. How much any one person can owe is reduced at every income level and capped at 8.5% of their household income. Anyone who filed for unemployment benefits during 2021 may also be eligible.
Those who had to make estimates of their income while applying for health insurance through the ACA marketplace will also be getting relief through the elimination of the tax credit drawback. When they estimate their income, if it is underestimated, they are required to pay back the tax credit they received. Because the pandemic caused more business slowdowns, closures, increased hazard pay and unemployment benefits, more people were likely to underestimate their income. Because of this, it has been eliminated for 2020 estimates.
Subsidies cover 100% of COBRA premiums under this plan, when people receive health insurance through their employer and are laid off, they have the option to keep their health insurance for 18 months, but they have to pay the full premium and a 2% administrative fee. With the new plan, the government will handle all of the fees and pay the COBRA premium through September 2021.
The changes to Medicaid will expand funding to states for home and community-based services, allows states to offer 12 months of postpartum coverage for new mothers, requires coverage of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments for those on Medicaid and extends COVID-19 testing to the uninsured.
All of these changes, and more that have been occurring throughout the pandemic, are made to help set up the country and its citizens to take on the pandemic as easily as possible and ensure that everyone can remain as unaffected as possible while remaining covered or becoming insured should infection with the coronavirus, or other disparities that may occur do to the virus. These changes help people be more able to be covered in any capacity and do it affordably.