New Jersey residents who receive unemployment compensation for as little as a week this year can get health insurance at virtually no cost, through funding provided by the American Rescue Plan.
The $1.9 trillion COVID relief measure, passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden on March 11, provides subsidies that lower the premiums for the unemployed to less than a dollar a month.
To qualify, recipients must not have any other options for affordable health coverage and buy a plan through the state’s online marketplace, Get Covered New Jersey.
The massive economic stimulus contained in the American Rescue Plan has funded the largest expansion of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, since its enactment in 2010. Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act against its most recent legal challenge.
Additional financial assistance, along with an extension of New Jersey’s open-enrollment period through the end of the year for insurance coverage, has resulted in the enrollment of an additional 37,000 people this year. Nearly 270,000 had signed up for coverage before the enrollment period was extended.
“We want residents to know that enrollment remains open at Get Covered New Jersey for those who still need health insurance,” Gov. Phil Murphy said last week.
New Jersey this year implemented its own state-based marketplace for the sale of health plans under the Affordable Care Act. State law in New Jersey requires almost all residents to have health insurance or pay a penalty.
The health insurance subsidies for the unemployed are available through the end of 2021. They start on the first day of the month after a customer enrolls.
To qualify, you must not have any other offers of affordable health coverage through an employer, a spouse’s employer, Medicaid or Medicare. You must have received unemployment compensation or been approved to receive it for at least a week in 2021.
Apply at the state’s official online insurance marketplace — Get Covered New Jersey — and answer the unemployment question. The subsidies cannot be used for plans purchased directly from a health insurer.
A separate federal program pays full premiums for COBRA coverage, which extends employer-based health insurance after an employee has been laid off. The American Rescue Plan provides premium payments for some COBRA recipients for six months this year, from April through September. Information about it is available at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/laws-and-regulations/laws/cobra/premium-subsidy.
Dozens of plans are available at GetCovered.NJ.gov in three tiers of coverage: bronze, silver and gold. The subsidies for the unemployed are calculated to reduce the cost of a “benchmark plan” in the silver tier to less than a dollar a month. Silver plans cover approximately 70% of health care costs. Consumers can also choose a bronze plan, which covers an estimated 60% of health care costs, or a gold plan, which covers 80%.
More information and a guide to enrollment are found on the Get Covered New Jersey website at: https://nj.gov/getcoverednj/findanswers/covid19/