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Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance marketplaces ends on Jan. 15, with most consumers having until then to choose a plan for 2022 that will best meet their medical needs.
As consumers review their insurance coverage and decide whether to make changes for 2022, they'll see not only more plans but also more affordable options as well, says Karen Pollitz, senior fellow at the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
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"I think people who haven't looked in a while will be pleasantly surprised at how much more affordable the coverage is," Pollitz says. That is due mainly to the American Rescue Plan enacted in 2021 that temporarily expanded the federal subsidies available in the marketplace plans and increased the amount of the financial assistance for which consumers can qualify.
"If your income is one to one and a half times the [federal] poverty level, which is just under $20,000 a year for a single person, you can now get a free heath insurance policy that has either a zero or a very low deductible," Pollitz says. And the vast majority of Americans who sign up for ACA plans can expect to qualify for some federal subsidy. Also under the American Rescue Plan, consumers will not have to pay any more than 8.5 percent of their annual income for marketplace insurance plan premiums.
These enhanced subsidies will be in place through 2022. Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), told reporters on a Nov. 1, 2021 call that, under the terms of the proposed Build Back Better social spending framework, this added financial assistance would remain in place through 2025.
More plans with lower premiums
According to CMS most consumers will have four or more health plan choices for 2022. In all but 2 percent of counties across the country, there will be more than one available plan. That's down from 4 percent of counties in 2021.
Four out of 5 health coverage shoppers will be able to find a plan for under $10 a month, and a single person earning up to just over $50,000 a year will, on average, save $240 a month in premiums, according to CMS.
More than 12.2 million Americans currently get their health insurance through the federal and state marketplaces.
More time to sign up
There are three new state marketplaces. Kentucky, Maine and New Mexico join 14 other states and the District of Columbia with marketplaces of their own. In those states, consumers sign up for insurance through those local exchanges instead of the federal marketplace. You can still go to healthcare.gov to find your state's online exchange, and consumers in the new states should have received letters informing them of the change.