Free health insurance included in stimulus benefits for unemployment recipients

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WASHINGTON, DC – JULY 02: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks about the June jobs report in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on July 02, 2021 in Washington, DC. Exceeding expectations, the U.S. economy added 850,000 jobs in June and the unemployment rate settled at 5.9%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) – Along with $1,400 stimulus checks and monthly child tax credit payments, the American Rescue Plan has another important benefit available to people who qualified for unemployment assistance this year – free health care.

The no-cost and low-cost health care plans became available on July 1, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). They will provide coverage through the end of the year.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is focused on providing relief to millions of families who need to access health insurance coverage because they have been impacted by job losses or underemployment during the pandemic,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “The Administration has made it easier than ever for Americans to enroll in an affordable, comprehensive health insurance plans through HealthCare.gov thanks to the increased financial assistance provided through the American Rescue Plan. 

Who is eligible for free health insurance?

Millions of people will be able to take advantage of the insurance subsidies, but there’s an important requirement – you have to have received or been approved to receive unemployment compensation in 2021.

If you are eligible, the next step is to got to Healthcare.gov and submit a new application or update an existing one to maximize your savings.

“We are doing everything we can to remove financial barriers to comprehensive health care,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure in a news release. “The American Rescue Plan provides consumers with additional savings and will make coverage even more attainable for those most in need.”

A special enrollment period created to help Americans affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is open through August 15, 2021.

Will my premium really be free?

For many eligible Americans, yes.

Whether or not you get a $0 plan will depend on the advanced tax credits that you qualify for during the application process.

The CMS says that an average of three out of five eligible, uninsured Americans will not have to pay a premium with four out of five qualifying for a plan that is $10 a month or less.

“We encourage consumers who have received unemployment compensation in 2021 to visit the Marketplace to see if they qualify to save money on their health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs,” Becerra said.

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