Expanded ObamaCare subsidies will become available April 1, Biden officials say

Expanded ObamaCare subsidies will become available April 1, Biden officials say
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Additional financial assistance to help ObamaCare enrollees afford their health insurance premiums will become available starting April 1, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Friday. 

The additional subsidies are part of the American Rescue Plan that President BidenJoe BidenMadame Tussauds unveils new Biden and Harris figures US raises concerns about Russian troop movements to Belarus Putin tests a model for invading Ukraine, outwitting Biden's diplomats MORE signed into law Thursday.

The extra financial assistance will help lower premium costs for millions of ObamaCare enrollees.


Premiums will now be capped at the maximum of 8.5 percent of income, down from about 10 percent. People who make more than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, about $100,000 for a family of four, will become eligible for financial assistance for the first time, helping prevent them from having to pay full freight for their plans.  

About 80 percent of people will be able to find plans for $10 or less after subsidies, up from 69 percent before the American Rescue Plan, the administration said. 

Still, there are some daunting logistical challenges for the implementation of the new changes.

People who already have ObamaCare coverage this year will need to go back to healthcare.gov after April 1 and update their applications to be able to get the additional financial help. If people do not update their applications, they will need to wait until next spring when they file their taxes to be able to get the extra money. 

Under the additional sign-up period opened by Biden, uninsured people have until May 15 to sign up for coverage, and existing enrollees can also change their plans before that date.  

The administration estimates 3.6 million people who are currently uninsured will become eligible for financial assistance under the American Rescue Plan's changes, and another 9.5 million uninsured people will be eligible for additional help.  


Many middle-class people who were previously not eligible for subsidies because their incomes were too high bought health insurance on their own, outside of healthcare.gov. Now they will be eligible for financial help, but could face difficulties in switching over to an ObamaCare plan.  

Administration officials said some people could contact their insurer to switch to an ObamaCare plan with financial help if their current coverage meets the law's standards. If they currently have a skimpier plan, they would need to cancel it and newly enroll in ObamaCare coverage in order to get financial help. 

The April 1 start date only applies to the 36 states that use the federal healthcare.gov website. Other states that run their own marketplaces will be announcing their own processes, officials said.