American Rescue Plan Makes ACA Insurance More Affordable; Get Free Help Understanding Options, Signing Up with Pisgah Legal and Partners
Healthcare.gov is open for enrollment through August 15, thanks to an extension of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Special Enrollment Period. New federal subsidies from the American Rescue Plan may also reduce or even eliminate monthly premiums for many enrollees.
On average, premiums will decrease by $50 per month. Premium payments are calculated at the benchmark of 8.5% of household income. People with income below 150% of the poverty line (about $19,000 for a single person, $25,800 for a couple, and $39,000 for a family of four) will pay no premiums for some plans, including Silver plans with cost-sharing reductions.
Pisgah Legal Services (PLS), along with its Enrollment Partners of WNC, is again offering free assistance helping people in the 18-county mountain region review their options and sign up for ACA health insurance.
“This extension through August 15 for enrollment through Healthcare.gov is very good news for people in need of health insurance, especially with so many having lost coverage during the pandemic,” said Jim Barrett, Executive Director of Pisgah Legal Services. “Thanks to new provisions in the American Rescue Plan, more people will now qualify for significant savings which means lower and even no-cost plans. We encourage those who have already enrolled—and those who thought this coverage was out of reach—to return to Healthcare.gov or return to any of the local ACA assister organizations and explore their options. Even if folks didn’t qualify for reduced premiums in the past, they very well may now.” And, he noted, “Pisgah Legal Services and its Enrollment Partners of WNC continue to offer free assistance to help people in our mountain region understand their options and sign up.”
Shannon Cornelius, Pisgah Legal’s Health Justice Program Director, says, “Because each person’s situation is different, and the plans and prices vary, we strongly encourage folks to contact us for a free appointment with one of our skilled advisors. Even current enrollees will need to update their Healthcare.gov applications to get the new subsidies now instead of waiting to get them when filing taxes next year.”
Last year, more than 90% of North Carolinians who enrolled for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace (www.healthcare.gov) received financial assistance to make their plans more affordable. Pisgah Legal can help with this process and can factor in unemployment benefits if needed. Pisgah Legal can also answer questions about other coverage, such as COBRA, and help people apply for Medicaid and CHIP.
Pisgah Legal and other enrollment partners of WNC participating organizations give local residents free, unbiased health insurance information and enrollment assistance in the NC Health Insurance Marketplace. These organizations include the Council on Aging of Buncombe County, Blue Ridge Community Health Services, Legal Aid of North Carolina, Mountain Projects, Inc., and Western Carolina Medical Society.
The ACA, also known as “Obama-care,” ensures access to quality, affordable health insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplace. With these plans:
- Consumers can’t be denied coverage for a pre-existing health condition and can’t be dropped for getting sick;
- Insurers can’t charge higher premiums to women; and
- Insurers can’t sell substandard plans that don’t pay for essential health care benefits.
Appointments can be made online at www.pisgahlegal.org/aca or by calling (828) 210-3404.
For the safety of consumers, staff, and volunteers, all appointments are currently being conducted by phone. Depending on where you live in WNC, some of Pisgah Legal’s ACA Partners may be offering in-person appointments.
PLS has offices in Asheville, Burnsville, Brevard, Hendersonville, Highlands/Cashiers, Marshall, Newland, and Rutherfordton. In addition to staff attorneys, Pisgah Legal relies heavily on the pro bono legal services of more than 300 volunteer attorneys.
Pisgah Legal Services continues to serve clients during the Covid-19 outbreak. For more information, to apply for help, or to make a gift in support of this important work, visit www.pisgahlegal.org.