For Uninsured Pennsylvanians, Getting Affordable Coverage Is Easier Than Ever
The coronavirus pandemic has certainly underscored the importance of having affordable health insurance coverage. While 29 million Americans did not have insurance before the pandemic, that number has increased dramatically over the past year, as millions have lost their jobs and employer care, or left. the labor market to take care of their families.
The problem of finding affordable health insurance is especially difficult for adults aged 50 to 64, who are not yet eligible for Medicare and are often forced to pay considerably higher premiums. A recent analysis by AARP’s Public Policy Institute found that nearly half of adults in this age group who purchased their own health insurance in 2019 had to pay more than they could afford, according to of their income. For example, a 64-year-old man who earns $ 49,000 a year may have had to pay a premium of 25% of his income, a price that would put health insurance out of reach for many.
READ MORE: Health Insurance Markets Reopened In Pennsylvania, NJ To Help With COVID-19 Relief
Fortunately, two new policy changes in Washington could help hundreds of thousands of uninsured Pennsylvanians get affordable health coverage.
The federal government has opened a special enrollment period until August 15, during which any Pennsylvania resident without insurance can purchase it through Pennie, the state’s health insurance marketplace. (Starting in November, Pennsylvanians who wish to purchase insurance in the market must use Pennie.) Perhaps even more important, a recent provision in the American Rescue Plan Act will provide additional financial assistance to eligible Pennsylvanians who purchase coverage. health care in the Pennie market.
Previously, only people earning less than four times the federal poverty line were eligible for premium grants. Now, everyone who has purchased insurance in the Affordable Care Act market is eligible and no one will pay more than 8.5% of their total household income. With this, health insurance has become much more affordable.
This is good news for as many as 363,000 Pennsylvanians between the ages of 50 and 64 who could potentially be helped by this special enrollment period and the expansion of premium tax credits. According to our analysis, 157,975 uninsured seniors in Pennsylvania could be eligible for coverage through the health insurance market and could now pay as little as $ 0.
READ MORE: Pennsylvania Launches Own Health Insurance Market
These new financial incentives could help reduce racial and ethnic disparities in health insurance coverage. While the ACA has helped reduce uninsured rates nationwide, significant gaps remain in Pennsylvania. Among adults aged 50 to 64, 12.2% of Hispanic / Latino adults, 8.2% of Asian adults, 9.3% of black adults, and 5.1% of white adults in Pennsylvania are currently uninsured .
We believe that no American should be deprived of the opportunity to lead a healthy lifestyle. AARP Pennsylvania encourages all residents of the state who are uninsured or struggling to afford health insurance to visit www.pennie.com for more information and to purchase affordable health insurance. Recent changes mean that those who already qualify for reduced premiums can get even more help, while those who were not previously eligible may now be eligible for reduced premiums.
As we continue to fight for access to affordable health care for seniors, AARP offers additional resources and information on the special enrollment period and new grants at www.aarp.org/ACA. Together, we can do more to reduce disparities and solve health care cost problems.
Joanne Corte Grossi is the president of AARP Pennsylvania. Rawle Andrews Jr. is Regional Vice President of AARP. A previous version of this article was published by the Erie Times-News.