SACRAMENTO, CA. (AP) – California on Monday reopened membership to its state health insurance exchange, hoping more people will buy coverage now that the federal government is offering new help that could cut monthly payments by $ 1,000 or more in some cases.
Typically, people can buy health insurance only through the state exchange, known as overed California, once a year during the open registration period. But last month, President Biden signed a $ 1.9 trillion coronavirus aid package. Of that amount, about $ 3 billion is coming to California in the form of new subsidies to help some people pay their monthly health insurance premiums. In some cases, people can buy coverage for as little as $ 1 a month.
The new subsidies are only available to people covered by the health insurance exchange created under former President Barack Obama’s health care bill. Starting Monday, government officials said they would allow people to buy California exchange programs by the end of the year.
To earn money, people must be legal US residents who cannot afford affordable health insurance և meet certain income requirements. About 1.4 million people in California already receive federal subsidies that reduce their monthly health insurance premiums. New subsidies for these people will automatically reduce their premiums by an average of $ 180 per household per month.
The new federal subsidies are so generous that about 92% of people who do not receive health insurance as a result of their work will be eligible for assistance, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. In California, this means that more than 1 million people are eligible for a subsidy but do not receive it, either because they do not have insurance or because they buy out of stock.
That includes people like “you” Mitch Hugins, a retired firefighter from Stockton. He lost his health insurance in the city bankruptcy process. He has since said he spends about $ 20,000 a year buying self-coverage. Previously, he was not eligible for a federal subsidy, but is entitled under a new law. He said he would save about $ 1,000 a month on his premiums.
“I would not believe it to be true,” he said. “It will be a significant saving for my wife.”
The new federal aid is more in line with the goals of California health policy, which is guided by the state’s Democratic-dominated state legislature. The state has tried to insure more people through aggressive, multi-million dollar marketing campaigns to tax people who refuse to buy health care. Both were abolished during the presidency of President Donald Trump.
“This is not like the days when the federal government was going in the exact opposite direction to ‘oversized California,'” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, executive director of the Consumer Health Advocacy Group.
California “overseas” CEO Peter Lee believes the new federal subsidies will benefit more people when they realize how cheap the programs are. That’s why he’s launching a $ 20 million state-owned advertising campaign to tell people about new subsidies and how they can get them.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that enough people will be registered in California to pay for all of them to the federal government for about $ 3 billion. Lee said his goal is to overcome that assessment.
“It could be $ 6 billion,” Lee said. “If we do our job, get there, if we register more people, it will actually cost the feder more, but for good reason.”
New subsidies are much more generous than they are now. For example, Lee said the premiums for one type of insurance plan would cost $ 1945 a month for a family of four living in Oakland, earning $ 78,000 a year. Current federal subsidies reduce that premium by $ 583 per month. But the new federal subsidies would later reduce the premium to $ 393 a month.
It is difficult to say for sure how much each person can save, as how much money they can get from the federal government depends on a number of factors, including how old they are and where they live.