The Kaiser Family Foundation concurs. They estimate that there are 3.7 million people who made too much to be eligible for premium subsidies under the ACA who will now be able to get that assistance. Those who are already in the marketplace and will now get the additional premium help will see “average savings under the ARPA subsidies will be $70 per month for current individual market purchasers, ranging from an average savings of $213 (39% of current premiums after subsidies) per month for people with incomes between 400% and 600% of poverty to an average savings of $33 per month (100% of current post-subsidy premiums) for people with incomes under 150% of poverty (who will now have zero-dollar premiums for silver plans with significantly reduced out-of-pocket costs).”
There are those $0 premiums again. For as many as 7 million people!
“The ACA is right now much closer to what its advocates hoped it would be from the start,” Larry Levitt, executive vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), told Vox. “This is a true test of how effective a juiced-up ACA can be at getting us closer to universal coverage.”
It can’t get us all the way. For one thing, undocumented people are still not eligible for this coverage. There are still people in the Medicaid gap in the 12 states still refusing to expand the program. Two of those states—Wyoming and Alabama—have flirted with expansion in 2021 legislative sessions. It’s now officially defeated in Wyoming, with the state Senate refusing to pass the House’s expansion bill, but still possible in Alabama. The rest of the 10 states, however, remain steadfastly opposed, even though there’s a generous new funding offer under the new law.
There’s also still what’s called the “family glitch” in ACA subsidies. If the insurance offered by an individual’s employer is affordable for that employee (around 10% of income in 2020) then it’s assumed to be affordable for the whole family, even if purchasing family coverage under the employer plan is more expensive. Family members aren’t eligible for subsidies on the ACA marketplace in that case. That problem continues, another one that has to be worked out in future legislation.
But still, the expansion of the ACA in the Rescue Plan is significant, and will help millions of people. They just have to be clued in! Last week, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra commemorated
The 11th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act by extending the pandemic enrollment deadline for ACA plans by another three months, until Aug. 15 for the 36 states using Healthcare.gov. (The other 15 states are determining their own deadlines.) The law included funding for HHS to get the word out about that extended deadline, undoing another part of the former guy’s sabotage of the law.
More than 200,000 people signed up for ACA coverage during the first two weeks of the special enrollment period President Biden initiated in February, in what was initially going to be a 90-day window. The response—and the need by people who’d lost insurance because of the pandemic—has been so great that it warranted the extension.
“President Biden promised to bring down health care costs, and by implementing the American Rescue Plan, this administration is delivering,” Becerra said in a statement regarding the new subsidy eligibility figures. “People deserve the peace of mind that comes from knowing you can take care of your health without going into debt.”