The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP), which was recently signed into law, is the legislation that extended unemployment insurance benefits until September. But what you may not know is that it also provides for additional financial assistance with health coverage for people who have lost their jobs. Although TWC does not administer these programs, our goal is to provide information and resources to assist unemployment insurance claimants in Texas.
So what are these programs?
COBRA for newly-unemployed workers
The first provision is related to COBRA which lets people who have job-based health insurance retain it for up to 18 months after they lose their job. Under the bill, individuals who either lost hours from their job or lost their jobs entirely, and who are qualified for continuation coverage, will have their premiums treated as fully paid for a period of time ending September 30, 2021.
Employers will then get access to a tax credit to make up for the unpaid premiums. This will allow people to continue their health coverage without needing to contribute premiums as is usually the case with COBRA coverage.
The second provision is enhanced marketplace subsidies. The ARP increases the amount of subsidies and covers more people. For the first time ever, people with incomes above 400 percent of the poverty level will be eligible for these subsidies.
Affordable Care Act Tax Credits
The third provision is related to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The provision in the ARP provides premium tax credits to Americans who are receiving unemployment benefits at any time this year.
The provision ensures that most people who receive at least one week of unemployment compensation at any time in 2021 will be able to obtain a Silver plan with $0 premiums. For more information, claimants can visit healthcare.gov