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American Rescue Plan Act FAQ

Mark your calendar!  The next Health Insurance Town Hall is August 11 at 12 noon. Use this link to join the Town Hall or submit a question in advance. https://bit.ly/VHCARPA3

Have you heard of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021? This new law gives more financial help  to people who buy their own health insurance. To get financial help, they must sign up through their state’s health insurance marketplace. Vermont’s health insurance marketplace is Vermont Health Connect. 

Vermonters in single plans may now qualify for tax credits with incomes up to $94,500. Vermonters in family plans may qualify with incomes up to $265,000. Vermont Health Connect members can use their tax credit to make their monthly bills lower. Or they can get it when they file their 2021 taxes. It’s important to enroll in the marketplace soon to get the largest tax credit possible.

The marketplace’s Plan Comparison Tool has been updated. It can help Vermonters choose the best health plan for their financial and medical needs. Here’s what different categories of Vermonters can do:

If this statement applies to you: Here’s what you need to know:
I don’t have health insurance If you didn’t qualify for financial help in the past, it’s time to look again. Take a few minutes to look at the Plan Comparison Tool. See an estimate for your financial help. Choose a health plan that will best meet your needs. Then sign up by October 1, 2021. If you apply today, you’ll be covered starting next month.
I’m enrolled through Vermont Health Connect 

Do you qualify for a premium tax credit? You can use it to make your monthly bills lower. Or you can get it when you file your 2021 taxes. To get it when you file taxes, you don’t need to do anything now. Want to use it to lower your monthly bills?  Login to your account or call us at 1-855-899-9600.

You can keep the health plan you have OR change plans. If you want to change plans, you must pick a new one by August 15, 2021. Take a few minutes to look at the Plan Comparison Tool.

Important! You can change plans and stay with the same insurance company. If you do that, they still count any deductibles you paid. BUT if you change insurance companies, the deductibles you already paid don’t count.

I get health insurance directly from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Vermont or MVP Health Care Read our instructions for transferring your health plan into the marketplace. The sooner you transfer your plan, the more tax credits you will get! See details for yourself in the Plan Comparison Tool.
I have job-based insurance You probably can’t get financial help to buy a marketplace plan. To get financial help, you must prove your job-based insurance is not adequate or affordable. Learn more from our Affordability Estimator.
I got unemployment benefits in 2021 Call Vermont Health Connect at 1-855-899-9600. Tell us you got unemployment in 2021. You’ll get extra financial help. See details for yourself in the Plan Comparison Tool. Or read our unemployment insurance FAQs.
I have COBRA The federal government is paying COBRA premiums through September 30, 2021. Vermont Health Connect’s Special Enrollment Period runs through October 1, 2021. Take a few minutes to look at the Plan Comparison Tool. Decide if you want to sign up for marketplace insurance when your free COBRA ends. Or read our COBRA FAQs.
I have government-sponsored insurance (Medicaid, Medicare, TRICARE, VA, Peace Corps) If you have Minimum Essential Coverage, you can’t get financial help to buy marketplace plans. Medicare Part A, Medicare Advantage, Medicaid, TRICARE , VA Health Care Programs, and Peace Corps Health Plans meet the definition of Minimum Essential Coverage. 
I want to help spread the word about these new lower costs Our Communications Toolkit has videos, social media posts, flyers, and sample articles. To get the Communications Toolkit, visit our Educational Materials page. 

Vermont Health Connect’s Plan Comparison Tool has been updated with the new eligibility rules and extra financial help.

LOWER BILLS FOR VERMONT HEALTH CONNECT MEMBERS IN 2021 AND 2022

I already get advance premium tax credits. Will the new law help me?

Yes. The American Rescue Plan gives you more premium tax credits. You can use it to make your monthly bills lower. Or you can get it when you file your 2021 taxes. To get it when you file taxes, you don’t need to do anything now. Want to use it to lower your monthly bills?  Login to your account or call us at 1-855-899-9600.

I’ve been told I make too much money to get financial help from Vermont Health Connect. Does the American Rescue Plan change that? 

Yes. Before the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the Affordable Care Act lowered premiums for people with incomes up to 400% of Federal Poverty Level (FPL)—or about $51,040 per year for a single person in 2021. Having a higher income meant you didn’t qualify for financial help from Vermont Health Connect. The new American Rescue Plan protects everyone who has to buy insurance on their own. All eligible people can find health plans that cost less than 8.5% of their income on health insurance premiums.    See details for yourself in the Plan Comparison Tool.

I am in the U.S. on a visa and don’t qualify for Medicaid coverage because of my visa status.  Will my monthly premium bill go down?

Yes, if you are enrolled in a qualified health plan through Vermont Health Connect. Depending on your income and the plan you choose, your premiums could be as low as $0/month.  The American Rescue Plan includes visa holders who don’t qualify for Medicaid coverage.   

I can get health insurance through a job, but it’s expensive. Can I get financial help under the new rules? 

Maybe. Financial help is not available to people who have an offer of job-based insurance unless you can prove it is not affordable by federal standards.  Use our affordability worksheet to find out if your job-based insurance is affordable.

If I enroll, how long will my monthly premium bill stay this low? 

The new rules for financial help under the American Rescue Plan include all of 2021 and all of 2022 unless Congress extends or makes them permanent. 

What if my income changes?

Vermont Health Connect’s financial help is based on your income and household size. If your income goes down, you may get more financial help to lower your monthly premium bill. If your income goes up, your financial help may go down. Under the American Rescue Plan, all eligible people can find health plans that cost less than 8.5% of their income.  Login to your account or call us at 1-855-899-9600 to report any income changes.

Do I have to enroll in a specific plan?

No. You can enroll in any qualified health plan in the marketplace – bronze, silver, gold, or platinum. You can apply premium tax credits to the plan of your choice. Want to know which plan will best meet your needs? Visit the Plan Comparison Tool.

I don’t have health insurance. Can I apply for Vermont Health Connect coverage and get financial help?

Yes. Now through October 1, 2021 uninsured Vermonters have a Special Enrollment Period. You can sign up with Vermont Health Connect.  To see how much financial help you might get, visit the Plan Comparison Tool.

I qualify for financial help, but I chose to pay my full monthly premium instead.  Can I claim the premium tax credit when I file my taxes? 

Yes. Vermont Health Connect members can choose to wait to claim their premium tax credits.  If you do that, you won’t get financial help each month to lower your monthly premium bill. You will get a credit on your federal tax return.  You can change your decision at any time. To do so, login to your account or call us at 1-855-899-9600.