Healthcare: A buried treasure in the American Rescue Plan
By Rep. Marty Wilde
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) has some underreported benefits for healthcare affordability. Many self-employed or small businesspeople can’t afford health insurance on the open market, so they purchase insurance in the Marketplace, established by the Affordable Care Act. The “advanced premium tax credits” – or subsidies – available on the Marketplace could bring the premiums closer to affordability, but they were not enough to make effective health insurance truly affordable. The ARP made premiums much more affordable.
As you can see from the charts below, Marketplace coverage to date either covered only catastrophic events (bronze plans) or was too expensive for most folks (silver/gold plans). When you’re living close to the poverty line, or even at twice the official poverty line, you simply don’t have the money to pay for health insurance. The ARP changes that. For instance, under the old rules, a family of 4 making $53,000 a year – 200% of the federal poverty level– would have had to pay about $600 a month to cover two adults, plus deductibles and co-pays. Now that same family would pay about $180 a month. (The fee structure for their children is more generous under other laws.) The subsidies continue to be scaled appropriately as family income increases, avoiding some of the cliffs that formerly awaited families as income grew.
The advantages of affordable health insurance go beyond family budgets. By allowing a freer transition from paid employment to self-employment or entrepreneurship, they stimulate small business development and growth. These provisions will benefit Main Street businesses in every community.
Medicaid Expansion. In addition to boosting affordability in the Healthcare Marketplace, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) also provided more incentives for states that have not expanded Medicaid to do so. In Oregon, Medicaid expansion has been a tremendous success, but some states objected to the 10% cost-share required to be paid from state budgets. The ARP mitigates this concern by boosting the federal match rate in states that join in the expansion by 5%, which more than offsets the startup costs of the expansion. Let’s hope the 12 states that have not expanded access take the opportunity to help those in need receive healthcare.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your State Representative. I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-986-1411.
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