Americans struggling to afford health care were thrown a lifeline thanks to an extension for part of the American Families Plan, which now provides free health insurance to millions of people affected by unemployment through the end of the year. Participants need to sign up by Aug. 15, which is when the current open enrollment period ends.
The free plans became available on July 1. There are no income limits to qualify, but you must have either received or been approved for unemployment benefits during 2021 to be eligible. The plan will be administered through HealthCare.gov, which is the marketplace established under the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.
The $0 monthly premiums are available under the ACA’s “silver” plans. That’s a big savings, considering that this year’s typical Obamacare premium is $452 a month, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The free health plans are provided by private insurers and also feature low or no copayments or deductibles.
“We are doing everything we can to remove financial barriers to comprehensive health care,” Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, said in a statement.
Americans who are uninsured and have received unemployment compensation this year should register that information on HealthCare.gov. After that, they can shop for a free plan on the site. The ACA is waiving the typical income limits needed for Obamacare coverage. However, you might not qualify if you or your spouse can get insurance from an employer or through Medicare or Medicaid.
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The program comes at an opportune time for many Americans who are still struggling from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. As previously reported by GOBankingRates, about 15% of U.S. adults ages 18 to 64 don’t have health insurance. The most common reason cited for being uninsured was that health insurance coverage is too expensive.
Meanwhile, many Americans have taken advantage of the Biden Administration’s decision to launch a special open enrollment period for Obamacare coverage. Nearly 1 million people signed up during the first 10 weeks of the special period, GOBankingRates reported in May. Of the new enrollees, almost half purchased coverage in April after Congress added billions of dollars in subsidies in the latest stimulus package.
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