By Tim Fitzgerald on Apr 13, 2021 4:15:00 PM
The new American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) is here, and there is a lot of information about healthcare resources and support available to health insurance brokers to process. While we encourage you to read the official document for yourself, there are a few standout items health insurance brokers should be aware of that we’ll go over here.
Free COBRA Coverage
ARPA requires employers to extend free COBRA coverage options to affected individuals from April 1st to September 13th , 2021. COBRA covered individuals and their qualified dependents will be eligible for extended COBRA coverage during this period, should an individual lose health coverage due to reduced work hours or involuntary termination during COVID-19.
COBRA coverage will also be extended to some who did not elect benefits before, including individuals who:
- Were previously covered via valid COBRA elections but had COBRA coverage terminated before April 1st, 2021
- Were previously given the opportunity to elect COBRA coverage due to a reduction in work hours or involuntary termination
Consequently, employer groups will be shouldering extra costs for employees they had to lay off during COVID-19. ARPA also includes tax credits to employers to help offset these additional COBRA costs – but it is likely your clients are going to have extra concerns about rising costs for both themselves and their employees. Be sure to go to client meetings prepared to address these concerns and give your clients options and resourced to reduce and manage their health insurance costs.
Marketplace Premium Subsidies and Tax Credits
Through ARPA, premium subsidies for marketplace ACA plans are being expanded at all income levels – including those with income four times above the federal poverty level (FPL). This means that until 2022:
- People who make 150% of FPL are eligible for silver plans with reduced deductibles and no premium
- Premium tax credits will increase at every income level
- People who make more than 400% of FPL will receive premium subsidies after 8.5% contribution
- Current ACA enrollees will be able to change plans during the Special Enrollment Period
- Excess premium tax credit repayments will be waived for 2020 marketplace plan holders
Your individual and ACA clients will look to you for information about their potential for premium subsidies and tax credits. Make sure to work with your clients during the Special Enrollment Period to ensure they select the health insurance plan that will save them the most money! Solstice plans can be selected throughout the special enrollment period on healthcare.gov or bought standalone at solsticecare.com
These adjustments for COBRA and ACA plan holders will take time to implement, but it is important to prepare in advance. Expect the first changes to go into effect April 1st ,2021, but be sure to tune in to the news for additional updates as plans progress. To best support your clients during this time, make sure you are demonstrating the most value with our FREE broker skills and services guide below!