What do I need to know about health insurance changes rolling out this week?


The American Rescue Plan Act goes into effect April 1st, 2021, and it makes some big changes to health insurance access for people in the United States.

These changes make medical insurance less expensive and easier to get. There are also big changes to COBRA plan pricing (big!), flexible spending accounts, and paid sick time. Here is a breakdown of changes that can help you and your family.

🖱️ The Health Insurance Marketplace–where you can shop for health insurance plans online–is open to everyone who doesn’t have health insurance. It has opened a Special Enrollment Period because of the pandemic. The Marketplace will remain open until August 15th.

Instructions for getting a Marketplace Plan can be found here.

💰 If you have looked at Marketplace insurance plans and they were too expensive, check again! Starting April 1st, Marketplace premiums will be lower due to more federal subsidies. People making up to $51,000 a year and a family of four making up to $104,800 can get help with premiums.

↘️ If you already have insurance through the Marketplace, you also qualify for lower premiums. You will need to update your information with the Marketplace. Also, you can change plans to one that better fits your healthcare needs.

Instructions on how to lower your premiums and change your plan are here.

🐍 COBRA coverage allows you to stay on your former employer health insurance for up to 18 months. Normally, you would have to pay the full premium. If you have been paying for COBRA coverage, there is good news! Now 100% of your premiums from April through September will be paid by the government. If you have turned down COBRA insurance in the past 18 months, you may still qualify. Contact your former employer’s human resources department for more information.

🚸 If you have a dependent care flexible spending account (FSA), you might be to make changes. Dependent care FSAs can be used to pay for childcare and adult daycare. Previously the most you could contribute to a dependent care FSA was $5,000 for couples and $2,500 for singles. This has been increased to $10,500 for couples and $5,250 for singles. Contact your human resources department for more information.

If you have a flexible spending account (FSA) for medical expenses, you might be able to make changes to how much you contribute out of each paycheck. However, the $2,750 per year limit hasn’t changed. Contact your human resources department if you want to make changes to your medical FSA.

📅 Most employers have to give you paid time off in some situations due to COVID-19. This includes getting a vaccination, recovering from getting a vaccination, getting a test, or waiting on test results. These 10 pandemic sick days are in addition to any other sick days you may have. Contact your human resources department to see if you qualify.

Hopefully, this round up of new healthcare laws will help you and your family stay healthy during the pandemic. Stay safe, stay sane!


Extended Access Opportunity to Enroll in More Affordable Coverage Through HealthCare.gov

Employers: Here’s Your “Quick Hitter Guide” for the American Rescue Plan Act’s Impact on COBRA and FFCRA

American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and COBRA Subsidies

Important FFCRA Leave Updates for Employers in the American Rescue Plan Act

This post was authored by nerdy guest Lee Holland, PharmD, MPH. Dr. Holland is a professional medical writer at a company that specializes in clinical trial transparency and disclosure communications. She is also a patient advocate and one of the operators of the Facebook group, Chattanooga COVID-19 Community Assistance.

Link to original FB post