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Collect unemployment in 2021? You could get free health insurance, too

July 1, 2021, 10:41 PM UTC

If you’ve collected unemployment benefits at any point in 2021, you could be eligible for free or deeply discounted health insurance starting today.

Special subsidies have gone into effect in the Affordable Care Act exchange that lower the price of select “silver”-level policies to as little as $0 per month. The reductions are part of the $1.9 trillion stimulus package that was passed in March, which also resulted in $1,400 stimulus checks.

Those same subsidies can significantly lower the cost of higher-tier healthcare packages.

With the subsidies, three out of five eligible uninsured Americans should be able to access $0 plans and an average of four out of five current HealthCare.gov consumers will be able to find a plan for $10 or less per month, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The low- and no-cost policies are also available to people who have been approved to receive unemployment benefits, but have not yet done so.

People can sign up for the coverage on healthcare.gov. The window will be open through Aug. 15 and savings will run for the rest of the year. People who are already covered though a healthcare.gov policy can return to the portal and update their information, which could result in higher subsidies.

Users on state exchanges will face different rules and should investigate options that are available to them.

“We are doing everything we can to remove financial barriers to comprehensive health care,” said Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in a statement. “The American Rescue Plan provides consumers with additional savings and will make coverage even more attainable for those most in need.”

The benefit of potentially free health insurance comes as 25 states have opted out of sending $300 weekly unemployment benefits. 

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