Americans have just a few hours to apply for free health insurance for the rest of the year, thanks to President Joe Biden’s pandemic bailout.
White House officials are urging anyone interested in a zero-premium plan to submit a request by Sunday, August 15 at midnight local time.
Both wealthy and low-income Americans are welcome to apply – and while there is one big eligibility requirement, millions of Americans have ticked that box this year.
Have you claimed unemployment this year?
If you received or were approved for unemployment benefits in 2021 – even if it was only a week – you are eligible for free coverage through HealthCare.gov. This is the market established under the Affordable Care Act.
Considering millions of people remain unemployed as the pandemic continues, the number of Americans who could benefit is huge.
“We have seen even in the past two weeks increased interest in enrollment,” Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, whose agency manages HealthCare.gov, told The Associated Press. “When you make coverage more affordable, people buy it. “
Intermediate “silver” plans with monthly premiums of $ 0 arrived on July 1. Free plans are provided by private insurers and come with low or no copayments or deductibles. Note that you are generally not eligible if you can obtain insurance from an employer – your own or your spouse’s – or through Medicare or Medicaid.
Biden’s pandemic aid bill – the one that provided stimulus checks of $ 1,400 and the new monthly payments for families – has brought yet another relief to unemployed Americans.
This includes increased unemployment benefits until early September (although at least half of the states withdrew early) and tax relief on unemployment benefits that resulted in surprise tax refunds for millions of people. .
Free plans aren’t the only draw
Although the free coverage expires in December, the President’s US bailout offers broad, low-cost coverage until at least 2022, so you can decide to stay with Obamacare even after this year.
“We cover more people, with better benefits and with 40% lower premiums,” Biden told the White House Thursday. “The average premium has gone from $ 104 per month to $ 62 per month. “
More than 2.5 million Americans signed up for market plans during the special enrollment period, which opened Feb. 15.
Of those, Biden says, a third have plans costing $ 10 or less per month, thanks to stimulus discounts.
HealthCare.gov registrants now pay no more than 8.5% of their income to their health insurance, down from the previous cap of 10%. Generally speaking, anyone earning more than $ 51,000 is currently saving an additional $ 1,000 per month, according to the administration.
If you can’t get free insurance but need help
If you don’t qualify for free coverage and are stuck with high health insurance costs, you can always look for a cheaper health plan. Next, you’ll want to try other money-saving strategies to offset your premiums:
Reduce the cost of home ownership. If you’re a homeowner and haven’t refinanced ultra-low interest rates in the past year, you might be missing out. Rates have recently fallen back to all-time lows, offering opportunities to save hundreds of dollars per month and thousands over time. You can also check if you can get a better deal on home insurance.
Dominate your debt. Credit cards saved the lives of many Americans during the pandemic, but their high interest can ruin your finances for years. Consolidating your balances into a low interest debt consolidation loan will help you pay off your debts faster and at lower cost.
Be serious about saving. If your budget is stretched to the point of crumbling, stop unnecessary spending. Whenever you shop online, use a free browser add-on that automatically searches for better prices and coupons so you don’t pay more than you need to.
Invest, because you can afford it. You don’t have to be rich to profit from today’s boom in the stock market. A popular app allows you to invest in a diversified portfolio using nothing more than a “coin” from daily purchases.
This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.