Tens of millions of Americans will find it significantly more affordable to purchase their own health insurance starting this month, thanks to generous financial assistance included in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) signed by President Joe Biden in March.

This includes many people who have already bought a plan for this year, as well as people who do not have insurance right now.

Health policy experts are urging anyone buying their own health insurance to visit HealthCare.gov during the pandemic’s extended open enrollment period, which runs until August 15, to take advantage of the new subsidies offered through ARPA.

Chances are, you will find a better deal on your health insurance than you currently are.

“It’s not just uninsured people who come to the market. They are also people who are already buying a plan to switch to another plan, ”Kaiser Family Foundation Vice President Cynthia Cox said of the open enrollment period during a recent ARPA Health Services briefing.

“People who belong to higher income groups may find they can afford a lower deductible plan,” Cox continued. “Someone who buys the Bronze plan may find that they can actually afford to buy the Silver plan now with these subsidies, and may have a lower deductible amount.”

ARPA regulations, which will last until 2022, will ensure that no one buying market coverage will pay more than 8.5% of their income in premiums – no matter what they earn.

Medical insurance will cost you only 8.5% of your income.

“This bill says we don’t care what your income is. If you need financial help so that you can get insurance for just 8.5% of your income, you will get this financial help, ”said Stan Dorn, director of the US National Center for Family Coverage Innovation, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group. medical services.

People earning up to 150% of the federal poverty line (about $ 19,000 per person and $ 39,000 for a family of four) can now get the Zero Premium Silver plan, and will also benefit from cost-sharing subsidies that cut their deductible. Karen Pollitz is a senior fellow at the Kaiser Family Foundation.

“The average deductible for the silver plan this year is approaching $ 5,000, but the most generous cost-sharing subsidy brings that deductible to less than $ 200,” Pollitz said during the briefing.

People who earn more will also benefit from generous ARPA subsidies. This includes people with incomes more than four times the poverty level who were previously not eligible for financial assistance in health insurance markets.

“ARPA is cutting premium payments for everyone, to a large extent – 92% of people who buy their own insurance are eligible for subsidies now,” Cox said. “Of the 8% who do not receive the subsidy, they are indeed high-income people who pay less than 8.5% of their income for the non-subsidized premium.”

These new benefits took effect on HealthCare.gov on April 1st.

To see how they can help you, go to the website and select the “report a life change” option and then click “change my family’s income,” according to financial advisors at the University of Michigan School of Medicine.

New features include paid COBRA awards.

It doesn’t matter if your income has actually changed – this step is required to apply and go to the “Compare Plans” section of the site, where you can view the options available to you. Then you can save your plan or choose a new one.

Keep in mind that any franchise you meet in an existing plan will be removed if you upgrade to a new plan and start from scratch. You should also make sure that your doctor is in your new plan.

Other ARPA health regulations are still in development, experts said, but should be operational soon.

For example, the federal government will pay 100% of COBRA premiums to laid-off workers for up to six months this year, including people who lost their jobs earlier during the pandemic.

Many laid-off workers cannot afford COBRA because they have to pay the full cost of the premium, Dorn said.

“This is a huge amount of money that very few can afford, so very few people have been able to reap the benefits of COBRA,” Dorn said. “This new law says that for at least the months of April through September, the federal government will pay you a COBRA premium so that laid-off workers can get affordable coverage.”

It is assumed that the work givers are reaching out to those who qualify, but you should contact your human resources specialist and ask about it.

People receiving unemployment benefits will also be eligible for expanded insurance market subsidies throughout 2021, Pollitz said, but they will take longer to implement. This program is expected to begin this summer.