The American Rescue Plan, recently signed into law by President Joe Biden, will save Vermonters a considerable amount of money by lowering their monthly health insurance premiums and by expanding coverage to those who previously made too much to qualify for help. This stimulus bill provides affordable health insurance to Vermonters.
If you purchased, or plan to purchase a Qualified Health Plan through Vermont Health Connect, you may be able to significantly lower your health insurance premiums.
According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), you may be able to lower your monthly premium by $50 to at times $300 per policy per month and in some cases you may be able to find a plan for $10 or less per month after premium tax credits.
As Vermont’s only local, non-profit health plan, to help you navigate this, we’ve developed answers to your frequently asked questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’m currently uninsured. What does this mean for me?
There is a special enrollment period for Vermonters from now until October 1. During this time, you can sign up for Vermont health insurance.
Our Open Enrollment Period for Qualified Health Plans starts on November 1. This is when Vermonters can sign up for a new plan through Vermont Health Connect. If you enroll during the fall Open Enrollment Period, and you don't have a qualifying event, your plan changes will take effect January 1, 2022.
I purchase my health plan through my employer. How does this affect me?
If you buy health insurance through your employer this will not affect you. However, if you lose your job and you qualify for unemployment, the law provides full coverage of COBRA premiums starting April 1, 2021 through September 30, 2021, even if you had previously declined COBRA coverage. Please check with your employer for more details regarding your eligibility and what this means for your COBRA coverage.
I purchase my health plan through Vermont Health Connect. How does this new law affect me?
- You will likely qualify for additional savings. Don’t miss out! Contact Vermont Health Connect today to see how the new law affects your monthly premiums. You can call Vermont Health Connect at (855) 899-9600. When you contact them, please share code ARPA21.
- If you’re a current member or you recently enrolled through the 2021 Special Enrollment Period, you can update your enrollment through Vermont Health Connect up until May 15, 2021.
Should I act now or wait until this fall to make changes?
Your tax credit will be multiplied by the number of months you are enrolled through Vermont Health Connect so it benefits you to act sooner rather than later.
How does this affect my taxes?
Next winter, you will receive a tax form listing the months you had coverage through Vermont Health Connect. You will need to use this form to claim your tax credit when you file your 2021 federal taxes.
Can I lower my monthly premium bill with this new law?
If you would prefer to receive the tax credit in the form of lower monthly bills, Vermont Health Connect can provide you with that option later this year.
With this new Opportunity can I switch carriers?
For now, you must remain with the same carrier.
With this new Opportunity can I switch Plans?
For now, you must remain in the same plan.
If I make this change, what happens to my out-of-pocket limit and deductibles?
Your deductible and max-out-of-pocket limits will remain in place. Any payments you’ve already made towards your deductible and out-of-pocket limit will transfer with you.
How do I know if I qualify for this new expanded coverage?
With the new law, there is no threshold. Households are expected to pay no more than 8.5 percent of their income towards health insurance premiums for the benchmark plan (MVP’s VT Plus Silver 2 HDHP). So, for example:
- Vermonters on single-only plans, the tax credits apply to annual income levels up to nearly $95,000.
- Vermonters on family plans, the tax credits apply to annual income levels up to $265,000.
- And, eligible Vermonters who collected unemployment benefits during 2021 can get premium tax credits, regardless of their annual income.
How do premium tax credits work?
Tax credits (or subsidies) help lower monthly health care premiums. You can choose to receive your tax credits on a monthly basis to lower your monthly expenses or in one-lump sum when you file your taxes.
Your subsidies are based on:
- Your total expected income for the year
- Number of people in your household who file taxes together
- The premium subsidy amount you receive is based on the cost of the second-lowest-cost silver plan (MVP's Plus Silver 2 HDHP). This is called the "benchmark" plan.
CMS has great information on how this works and how the savings is calculated.