Pennsylvania residents have until Sunday to sign up for a reduced-cost health plan through Pennie, the state-based health insurance marketplace.
In an effort to help people who lost health insurance due to the pandemic, the federal COVID-19 relief package expanded who is eligible for financial assistance and increased the amount of tax credits available through the federal marketplace, healthcare.gov, and state-based marketplaces, including Pennie and Get Covered NJ.
Pennie’s special enrollment period ends Aug. 15. Anyone who submits an online application before 11:59 p.m. Aug. 15 will have until Sept. 15 to select a plan. New Jersey’s marketplace will remain open through the end of the year.
“The American Rescue Plan has really helped to make coverage through Pennie more affordable. ... It’s never been more affordable or more accessible,” said Zachary Sherman, Pennie’s executive director.
More than 60,000 people have enrolled in Pennie plans since February, the start of a special enrollment period. By comparison, about 75,000 people signed up for plans during Pennie’s regular fall enrollment period. About half of new members qualified for plans whose premiums cost $1 or less a month, Sherman said.
Previously, only people who earned less than 400% of federal poverty, about $50,000 annually, were eligible for a tax credit. Tax credits varied by income level and ensured low-wage households did not spend more than 9.8% of their income on health insurance. Tax credits still vary by income, but now anyone can qualify for one. The amount of the tax credits has gone up, so that no one pays more than 8.5% of income on a marketplace plan.
Expanded eligibility and tax credits will remain in place through 2022.
Under another American Rescue Plan rule, anyone who received at least one week of unemployment benefits in the last year is eligible for the maximum subsidy amount — meaning their monthly cost could be less than $1.
Marlene Caride, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, urged people who are uninsured to consider their marketplace options because they may be eligible for a lower cost plan than before.
“Now more than ever before, we understand the value of access to quality health care, and want to ensure everyone who needs health coverage takes advantage of the available savings,” she said in a statement.