Opinion: Reduce health insurance costs through American Rescue Plan

July 8, 2021
Opinion: Op-Eds
Easy Reader & Peninsula

by Rep. Ted Lieu (CA-33)

It’s hard to pass up a bargain – especially when the outcome is life-changing and, potentially, lifesaving.

Millions of Californians have an unprecedented opportunity right now to pocket significant savings on their health care coverage, to the tune of hundreds of dollars a month thanks to the American Rescue Plan. This new law, passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden, means more than saving money. It represents new hope and immediate relief as we emerge from the pandemic.

One of the most important outcomes from the pandemic is renewed awareness of and appreciation for the importance of protecting our health and that of our families. Our health is priceless, and no one should have to choose between putting food on the table or paying for health insurance.

The American Rescue Plan takes that into account and makes health insurance more important than ever before. Nearly 2.5 million low- and middle-income Californians are eligible for new and expanded subsidies, according to estimates from Covered California, the state’s insurance marketplace. After months of economic distress tied to the pandemic, these subsidies can dramatically help millions of Californians, putting access to quality, affordable health care coverage within reach and more money back into their pockets.

California embraced the Affordable Care Act early on, expanding access to coverage, and care for millions of Californians. Since its passage in 2010, California has been able to expand insurance coverage substantially, reducing the state’s uninsured rate from 17 percent to just 7 percent — the largest drop in the nation. The American Rescue Plan builds on the ACA and is helping to make even greater progress to help people get and keep coverage at a time when we need it the most.

As conversations in Washington, D.C. focus on infrastructure, it is important to keep top of mind our health care infrastructure. The American Rescue Plan is a good first step to address barriers to health care coverage, most specifically affordability. The new financial assistance available through the American Rescue Plan is already helping Californians save on their health care costs. Early enrollment results show that more than 76,000 people signed up for health insurance through Covered California between April 12 and May 15.

In our region, the benefits of the new law are significant. In the Los Angeles region, it’s estimated that 368,000 people remain without health insurance. For low- and middle-income Californians who’ve been hit hard by the effects of the pandemic, this new money means the ability to get coverage to protect their loved ones. Many people now have the chance to get a high-quality, name brand plan through Covered California for as little as a dollar a month. There are also plans that offer richer benefits for less than $100 a month.

An important part of the American Rescue Plan is it is providing relief to more Californians than ever before, including many who may not have been eligible to get help before. Many Californians who currently buy their health insurance directly from an insurance company can switch to Covered California, keep their same company and benefits and save up to $700 each month. For a great many, the American Rescue Plan adds up to real savings to help them pay for housing, daily living expenses, education costs or to get their business back on its feet. That is substantial and welcome relief after the year we have lived through.

The key is that consumers should act now to take advantage of the substantial savings included in the American Rescue Plan. That’s why Covered California has extended a special enrollment period in order to give folks the chance to sign up and start saving. People who don’t think they can afford coverage owe it to themselves to get the facts. Going to the CoveredCA.com website makes it simple to get a rundown of how low premiums can be and what insurance options look like in our region.

One of the best ways to ensure peace of mind is to protect our health. Signing up for coverage through Covered California, with big savings through the American Rescue Plan, is the best way to do that. ER

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