Now that new health insurance premium financial assistance will be offered to Americans thanks to the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act of 2021, state-based exchanges across the country have begun implementing the back-end updates needed to help consumers take advantage of the savings now available to them. As an example, in a recent interview with Amy Lotven from Inside Health Policy, an industry publication, Peter V. Lee, executive director of Covered California, noted that about 1.2 million Californians and 13 million people nationwide are uninsured and now eligible for lower premiums. Lee explained that the majority of uninsured Californians could get a silver plan for less than $60 a month or a bronze plan for just $1 a month. While the Congressional Budget Office estimates by the end of 2022, coverage through the marketplaces could increase by 1.7 million, this number could be much higher if states and carriers market the new provisions to the affected populations and transition off-exchange enrollees to the exchanges. 

“At GetInsured, we are collaborating closely with all of our state-based exchanges to prepare for updates in their eligibility and enrollment systems,” said Shankar Srinivasan, General Manager. “ We plan to support their efforts to drive awareness about the tremendous savings that are going to be available to millions of people.”

The American Rescue Plan is clear and provides consistent rules that can be applied across states. However, exchanges across the country are taking different approaches to the major changes in the legislation. GetInsured’s approach is to work with our states to make this as seamless an experience as possible, and to move quickly to enable consumers to take advantage of their enhanced benefits for the remaining months of the year. 

Broadly speaking, to approach the changes detailed in the American Rescue Plan Act, our strategy is to first address the consumers’ online experience with our state customers. All the savings you currently see in our Health Insurance Affordability Calculator will be fully accessible and automated in the back-end for each of our state-based exchanges. Meanwhile, there will be messaging on the front-end to let people know about the new benefits that are available. 

Each of our state customers operate on their own timeline and we are closely working with them on implementing their own individual guidelines. Many of them are targeting April for the new rules to be implemented, with the automatic re-evaluation and application of benefits occurring a few weeks after. 

Our goal at GetInsured is, and has always been, to make it as easy as possible for people to sign up for health insurance. To that end, we are working hard to proactively help consumers who come to the exchanges, both those who are already enrolled in exchange plans, as well as those who are not but who have heard about the new legislation and want to take advantage of the federal subsidies.

People currently receiving or who are eligible to receive unemployment insurance will be able to attest to this online and then take advantage of the significantly higher subsidies (essentially free coverage). While this feature will be available in April, we will also be looking at ways to automatically extend the new subsidies to those who have previously reported unemployment income this year. 

In late spring, for individuals and families who are already enrolled in exchange plans, we will apply the new subsidies directly to their enrollment, so they would essentially have to do nothing to receive the savings. A letter will be sent notifying them of the changes.

For those who are not currently enrolled on the exchange or who have coverage through third-party carriers, the state exchanges are working with their carriers and brokers to create pathways to transition consumers onto the exchange and make the subsidies available. 

“The American Rescue Plan Act does a lot to help millions of Americans access affordable health insurance,” said Shankar. “These new rules really help us to deliver more on our company mission; we are excited to help our state customers make the most of these changes.”