The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP, also called the COVID-19 Stimulus Package or American Rescue Plan) is a $1.9 trillion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021. The purpose of the law is to speed up the United States' recovery from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing recession.
Part of that law changed rules governing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including expanding the group of people who can qualify to get help paying for the insurance. The law also expands benefits for people on COBRA and those who received any amount of unemployment insurance benefits during 2021.
WHAT HAS CHANGED?
Financial help and the American Rescue Plan. The law eliminates the former income cap set at 400% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL, $51,140 for a single person; $68,960 for a couple). Instead, the subsidy is determined by comparing the cost of a reference or benchmark plan to the maximum amount the program says you should pay for insurance (given your birthdate, zip code, family size and income). The difference is the new amount of assistance you will receive. You or your broker can now update your eligibility to take advantage of the changes.
Health Insurance for Recipients of Unemployment Benefits. Anyone who has received unemployment benefits for at least one week in 2021 may qualify for $0 and low-cost health insurance premium options. This is very good insurance for no or low monthly cost. Brokers are able to indicate this status in the enrollment systems so the new benefits are applied.
Benefits for People Who Have/Had COBRA Benefits. Individuals who became eligible for COBRA or comparable state programs, may enroll or reinstate their COBRA coverage AND the program will pay your COBRA premiums. You should receive notice of these benefits from your former employer or COBRA administrator.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO?
Contact me or your authorized broker to get the benefits of the ARP changes. Additional benefits will usually take effect on the first of the following month.
Connect for Health Colorado (Connect)—the agency that enables members to receive tax credits and other subsidies—plans to upgrade their systems to update eligibility. Right now, however, it is a manual process. Let me or your authorized broker help you navigate through this.
In order to provide my clients the full range of options, I am an independent broker representing the major insurance companies in Colorado. I do not charge clients for my brokering work. I seek first to understand you and your needs, and then to help you decide among available insurance solutions.