It’s been more than six months since Congress approved the third stimulus check by signing the American Rescue Plan Act into law. Along with direct payments, the American Rescue Plan Act offered many other coronavirus stimulus check like benefits as well. However, many of those benefits have either expired or will expire soon. One such benefit is free health insurance for jobless workers, which will end this week.
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The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which was approved in March, carried a provision offering free health insurance to those who are unemployed. The provision offers free health insurance coverage from April 1 to September 30 through COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act).
COBRA gives an option to those who have left the company to remain on their former employer’s insurance plan. As per the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average total annual premium for job-based coverage in 2020 was $7,470 for individuals, while it was $21,342 for families.
This program (of free health insurance) gained massive popularity after it started, but it will now end this week. It is reported that over 16 million people lost their employer-sponsored health coverage during the pandemic.
Those benefiting from this program will get a notice (or would have gotten already) from their former employer or insurer that the subsidy will end soon. Moreover, the notice will detail that person’s monthly insurance bill after the federal benefits expire.
In case you are unable to pay that premium, you will get the option to register for a 60-day enrollment period on the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace, notes a report from CNBC. To ensure there is no coverage gap, it is recommended that you report to the government about your inability to afford the premium.
What Other Options Do People Have?
Those who got unemployment benefits even for a week in 2021 would qualify for a plan with a $0 monthly premium, the report says. Moreover, if the taxpayers’ income is low enough, they may qualify for Medicaid as well.
If you got a new job, then another option you have is to talk to your new employer about the employer-sponsored health insurance coverage. You also have an option to stay on COBRA if you can afford the premium, but it generally has an 18-month limit.
Another federal benefit that recently expired is the unemployment benefits. The federal unemployment benefits officially ended on Labor Day. Expiry of federal unemployment benefits is estimated to impact more than 11 million people, who will either lose full benefits or some part of it.
Several states ended the federal unemployment benefits well before the Labor Day cutoff. The federal unemployment benefits have already been extended twice in the past year, so it is unlikely to be extended again.