March 12, 2021
Media contact: Public Affairs, (360) 725-7055
OLYMPIA, Wash. – The American Rescue Plan Act dramatically expands access to free and low-cost health insurance for more than 200,000 people who get their health insurance through Washington’s Healthplanfinder, our state's Exchange.
“Despite the progress made under the Affordable Care Act, we know that too many families have struggled to afford critical health coverage, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. “The American Rescue Plan Act makes good on a promise to provide more affordable coverage to so many in need. More importantly, we know it will save lives.”
Of the more than 224,000 people who selected a plan during the last open enrollment, 62% qualified for a subsidy to help with premium costs. Subsidies are available to people based on their income. In the past, subsides have been limited to people earning between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level ($26,200 to $104,800 annual income for a family of four).
The American Rescue Plan Act reduces the percentage of income that people must pay toward their health coverage and removes for two years the cap on income to qualify for premium subsidies. The measures increase subsidies and the number of people who qualify for financial help.
With removal of the income cap, individuals who earn more than $51,040 and families who earn more than $104,800 will not be required to spend more than 8.5% of their income on health insurance premiums. Others with lower incomes will see their premiums reduced; a family of four earning between $26,200 and $39,300 would not pay any premiums. Before, they had to spend between 2% and 4.14% of their income on premiums.
In addition, the new law:
- Increases the amount of subsidies available for people who receive unemployment benefits in 2021.
- Removes the requirement that people pay back any excess subsidies they may have received in 2020 if their income changed during the year.
- Covers 100% of COBRA premiums for anyone who loses a job and wants to keep their employer-sponsored coverage through Sept. 30, 2021.
"Many thousands of people will find more affordable coverage because of the Biden administration’s actions,” said Kreidler. “It is a monumental shift in priorities for our country and has come at a critical time for so many families struggling during the pandemic.”
A special enrollment is currently underway at the Exchange through May 15.