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2021 American Rescue Plan impact | Opinion


The American Rescue Plan (ARP) signed into law in March did more than supply families with stimulus checks; it also provided much-needed health insurance cost relief. Specifically, the relief package offers additional tax credits and expands eligibility for financial assistance, effectively lowering health insurance premiums now. It’s estimated that many households can save at least 17 percent and, in many cases, over 50 percent. Tri-County Health Network (TCHNetwork) is ready to help everyone access these benefits immediately. This is a great opportunity for anyone already enrolled or who is looking to purchase health insurance from the state marketplace, Connect4Health Colorado. For people who are already enrolled in health care through Connect4Health Colorado, you may now qualify for reduced premiums, even if you did not receive them initially. The TCHNetwork team can help you determine your additional credit and submit the necessary information to begin saving immediately. For anyone without insurance, Connect4Health Colorado has created a new open enrollment period where you can enroll in coverage at lower costs for the remainder of 2021.

“The most common question we hear from the community about the ARP is, ‘Who’s eligible?’ The answer is essentially everyone. It’s a very exciting opportunity to help individuals and families keep a lot of money in their wallets,” said Greg Fischer, TCHNetwork director of programming. “Open enrollment is back, and if the cost was a barrier to purchasing health insurance in the past, the stimulus package could help you.”

One of the most significant bonuses is related to unemployment. Anyone who has received unemployment benefits in 2021 is now eligible for $0 premiums or a very low-cost premium, health insurance through Connect4Health Colorado. That includes anyone who received unemployment even for a week in 2021.

“This might be the most significant part of the stimulus package for insurance. We have a lot of people in our communities who work seasonal jobs, so the barrier to enrolling or maintaining health insurance is essentially eliminated,” said Angela Bullard, one of TCHNetwork’s health coverage guides.

Even for households who have been consistently employed in 2021, there are financial benefits. The ARP reduces the cost of insurance premiums by providing new tax credits, which will save the customer money monthly. TCHNetwork has produced a “how-to” video on updating the account information on Connect4Health Colorado for anyone who enrolled for insurance between November and January. Once your account is updated, the reduction in your premium will be reflected the following month. The video can be viewed at tchnetwork.org/insurance-assistance.

Moreover, individuals and families can take advantage of significantly lower co-pays and deductibles to upgrade their insurance plan. These upgraded plans will not pay more than 8.5 percent of their annual income on premiums. In many cases, it will be less than that.

TCHNetwork has a dedicated team of health coverage guides who complete 40-plus hours of training annually and have the most current information about available health insurance plans in the region. The guides will help community members assess eligibility, learn more about their health insurance options and determine their best option for everyone. Guides will also help individuals assess if Medicaid might be an option.

“It’s important for people who need to enroll to do so by Aug. 15 to take advantage of lower-cost or zero monthly premiums. There’s no reason to go without when multiple financial barriers have been removed. Our team is reaching out to help residents across the region because we want to help everyone save money.”

Guides are positioned throughout the region, and are available for appointments in San Miguel, Ouray, Montrose and Delta counties to explore these options. Appointments can be scheduled with a local guide by calling 970-708-7096 or emailing [email protected] The TCHNetwork team is available for early morning or evening appointments, virtually, at the local coffee shop, and libraries.

“We will work with you to ensure your questions are answered and your needs are met. That’s exactly why we are here,” Fischer said.

ABOUT TRI-COUNTY HEALTH NETWORK

Formed in 2010, Tri-County Health Network is a 501c3 nonprofit. TCHNetwork operates 20 community outreach programs that serve a vital role in promoting the health and wellbeing of everyone in our region. We are committed to increasing access to care, building health equity and eliminating health disparities. For more information, visit tchnetwork.org.



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