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Coronavirus Stimulus Plan Means Many More Kansans Can Get Free Or Cheap Health Insurance

A photo shows a road sign pointing to the nearest hospital.
David Condos
/
Kansas News Service

Even if you already bought a health plan this year, you may qualify for a steeper discount that you can apply to receive now or claim on your taxes next spring.

Tens of thousands of uninsured Kansans qualify for enough government subsidies to get free health insurance.

That was the case even before the passage of Congress' latest stimulus package in March, but now those benefits are available to many more people.

For some, the potential savings for 2021 and 2022 health plans on the Affordable Care Act marketplace are dramatic.

The Kaiser Family Foundation says a 60-year-old Kansan earning $55,000 a year can save more than $7,000 on this year’s premiums.

Most people who already bought plans this year on the ACA, or Obamacare, marketplace can lower their monthly premium or zero it out as part of a two-year expansion of subsidies included in the American Rescue Plan stimulus package.

Even some people who earn more than four times the federal poverty rate will now get financial help.

Here are two quick and easy ways to check whether the stimulus deal affects premiums for you:

If you already bought your 2021 coverage but now qualify for steeper discounts, the change won’t kick in automatically mid-year. You have to reapply through healthcare.gov. The deadline to apply is mid-August.

Or you can get the savings retroactively next spring when you file your taxes.

If you bought your health plan this year without going through the federal marketplace, you’ll have to go through the marketplace now to get the subsidies.

Normally, the annual window for buying or switching insurance plans on the federal exchange happens each fall. But people get a second chance this year because of the pandemic.

The new window for 2021 coverage closes Aug. 15. The window for buying 2022 plans opens a few months later, and the expanded subsidies will count toward those, too.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen reports on consumer health for the Kansas News Service. You can follow her on Twitter @celia_LJ or email her at celia (at) kcur (dot) org.

The Kansas News Service is a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio focused on health, the social determinants of health and their connection to public policy.

Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished by news media at no cost with proper attribution and a link to ksnewsservice.org.

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