WASHINGTON – The Biden administration is extending for three more months a special opportunity for people to sign up for government-subsidized health insurance through the federally run marketplace.
Instead of ending May 15, the special enrollment period will run through Aug. 15 to give people more time to take advantage of the expanded subsidies included in the recently passed $1.9 trillion stimulus package.
The package increased the subsidies already available to people who don’t receive health insurance from an employer or through a government plan like Medicare or Medicaid. And it made the subsidies newly available for people earning more than four times the federal poverty level, which is about $51,520 for a single person.
Premiums will decrease an average of $50 a month per person, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. But some people could save hundreds of dollars each month.
“A few clicks and a short conversation and that’s all it takes to start seeing those benefits,” President Joe Biden said during an event in Ohio. “Increased coverage and lower premiums.”
The savings are available starting April 1.
People who already have insurance through an exchange can either apply the new subsidies to their existing plan to lower their monthly payments or can switch plans. Switching could allow someone to buy a plan with a much lower deductible, with the higher subsidy covering that plan’s higher premium.
The announcement came on the 11th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, the signature domestic accomplishment of former President Barack Obama that included the original subsidies. Biden has pledged to build on the ACA, commonly referred to as Obamacare.
Biden created the special enrollment period shortly after taking office to help people find coverage during the pandemic.
The extension applies to HealthCare.gov, the insurance marketplace run by the federal government for residents in 36 states. States that run their own marketplaces have created their own special enrollment periods and details vary.
The expanded subsidies, available through both the federal and state-run exchanges, last for two years.