California said on Monday that it has allowed enrollment again for its state health insurance exchange, in a move that is expected to attract more people to buy coverage as the Federal Government offers new assistance that may lower monthly premiums by $1,000 or even more, depending on the case.
Generally, Americans can buy health insurance through state exchanges in California, known as Covered California, every year during an open enrollment period. But, after Biden announced a $1.9 trillion relief package for the Coronavirus, $3 billion of it came to California, the hardest hit state in the country. The amount is coming to California in the form of subsidies to enable people to pay their health insurance premiums. If the case permits, people can even buy coverage for $1 every month.
These federal subsidies are available till December 2022 to individuals who buy premiums through health insurance exchanges. The subsidy scheme, which was made available during former President Barack Obama’s health care law, was in-force and would let people purchase these health insurance plans on California’s exchange throughout the end of the year.
In order to be eligible for the money, the people must be US legal citizens who are unable to afford health insurance from their jobs but meet specific income requirements.
Presently, 1.4 million people in California already avail federal subsidies which lower their monthly premiums. With these new subsidies, their premiums would be lowered even more, to about $180 average per household income.
When these new subsidies take effect, 92% of people who don’t get health insurance from their work would be eligible for help, as per analysis by Kaiser Family Foundation. California has more than 1 million people eligible for subsidies but somehow, do not receive it, either because they don’t have insurance or due to the fact that they may be purchasing off the exchange.
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Many people like Jack Huggins from Stockton have lost their health insurance due to the city’s bankruptcy proceedings. Ever since, he claims that he had to pay around $20,000 annually to buy coverage on his own. Under the new law, he would be eligible for federal subsidy, which wasn’t the case in the past. The new federal scheme would save him $1,000 every month on the premiums.
California has been driven by the state’s legislature which is Democrat-led. The state has tried to get more people into buying health insurance through multi-million dollar rigorous campaigns and taxing those who don’t buy health insurance policies. During Donald Trump’s Republican administration, both these provisions were removed.
However, according to Powdersvillepost the new federal assistance is more aligned with California’s health care policy goal. Executive director Anthony Wright of Health Access California also rejoiced on this announcement of the federal government. The director of the consumer health care advocacy group celebrated the change from where the past federal policies did not align with California’s health insurance policies.
Covered California’s executive director, Peter Lee said that the federal subsidies would attract more people once they understand how affordable the plans would be. He has launched a 20 million statewide campaign to educate people about the new subsidies and how they can avail them.
The Congressional budget estimates that it would cost the federal government $3 billion to pay for all the beneficiaries of the campaign.
However, Peter Lee said that although it may end up costing the federal government, it would encourage more and more people to buy health insurances due to the low premiums.
Federal officials are seeking to promote more and more health insurance as Coronavirus claims more than 565,000 lives in the country.