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American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA)

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (American Rescue Plan), passed by Congress and signed by President Biden on March 11, 2021, increases the opportunity for unprecedented numbers of Nevadans to receive subsidies, including Nevadans making over 400% of the federal poverty level

With this new law, no matter your circumstances, you may be able to save more money for health insurance coverage. What the American Rescue Plan means for Nevadans:

  • Consumers who previously did not qualify for a subsidy (tax credits to help pay monthly premium costs for insurance) or not enough subsidies because their income was considered too high, may now be eligible for subsidies or increased subsidies for the first time.
  • Consumers on unemployment could be eligible for a $0 premium plan.
  • Consumers who have a plan off-exchange may be eligible to buy a comparable plan on the Exchange for a cheaper price thanks to the expansion of subsidies.
  • Consumers who already have a plan via Nevada Health Link and receive subsidies can see an even lower premium.
  • People who lost their job and health insurance due to COVID-19 may now obtain a COBRA plan at no premium cost.

COBRA - If you lost your job and health insurance coverage:

Despite health insurance coverage being vital during a health crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, many Nevadans lost their job or their hours were reduced, therefore - losing their health insurance coverage.

Fortunately, there are good news if you had health insurance coverage through your employer and lost your employer-sponsored health insurance coverage because you were involuntarily terminated, or your hours were reduced. ARPA created an opportunity to keep that same coverage with COBRA insurance without having to pay any premium from April 1 until September 30, 2021. Even if you have already declined COBRA coverage or your enrollment period has expired, you may still enroll in COBRA. Your employer or benefits administration is obligated to notify you if you are eligible for this subsidized coverage by May 30, 2021, however you may not wish to wait until then to enroll in this coverage because you will miss a couple of months of subsidies. To find out more about COBRA and the available subsidies, we recommend that you contact your employer or insurance company and enroll by April 1, 2021 to receive the full benefits.

Things to consider about COBRA: 

Enrolling in COBRA coverage may be beneficial because it means you would get to keep your same health insurance coverage but not pay a monthly premium for six months-but there are limitations and things to consider. This subsidized coverage is limited to six months, which means that on October 1, 2021 you may continue with COBRA but will have to pay the monthly premiums out of pocket. You could opt to cancel such coverage but would be left uninsured. At the moment there is no special enrollment period for people who cancel their COBRA coverage because of affordability issues. Even if a special enrollment period is created for people who lost their subsidized COBRA coverage, you need to consider how changing health plans mid-year would impact you. Starting a new health plan mid-year would reset your deductibles and maximum out-of-pocket. Any health services paid towards your deductible and maximum-out-of-pocket under your COBRA health plan would not transfer to the new health plan.

For more information and frequently asked questions, below are some links to resources:

COBRAPremium Subsidy | U.S. Department of Labor (dol.gov)
FAQSABOUT COBRA PREMIUM ASSISTANCE UNDER THE AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT OF 2021(dol.gov)
https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/n-21-31.pdf

On- Exchange plans – Nevada Health Link

If you decide COBRA insurance is not right for you, you also have the option of purchasing a Qualified Health Plan through Nevada Health Link, Nevada’s online health insurance marketplace operated by the state agency, the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange (Exchange). By purchasing a plan through Nevada Health Link, you may apply for subsidies to help offset premium cost and in some cases even get a $0 premium plan.

On April 20, 2021 Nevada Health Link fully implemented the American Rescue Plan subsidies and Unemployment Insurance rules. Which means you may wish to revisit plans on Nevada Health Link if:

  • You previously requested subsidy assistance but were not eligible prior to the ARPA.
  • You have an off-exchange plan. 
  • You received unemployment benefits.
  • You are uninsured.

Even if you are already enrolled in a health insurance plan on the Exchange, and already receive subsidies or weren’t eligible for subsidies before Nevada Health Link will reassess your subsidy eligibility. For more information about their ARPA’s implementation and how to enroll, please visit Nevada Health Link’s website at https://www.nevadahealthlink.com/americanrescueplan/ or call them at 1-800-547-2927.

It is important for everyone to consider purchasing a health insurance on the Exchange, but it is especially important for those who are uninsured or have a health plan off the Exchange because you are leaving behind subsidies you will never receive.

Be aware of scammers

Any new opportunity to save Nevadans money, is also an opportunity for scammers to try to take advantage of consumers. You may receive many calls or emails from people falsely claiming they are selling you plans compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) when in reality they may be selling some other type of product like discount medical plans or short-term plans which can lead to having thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills because of gaps in coverage. Here are some things to watch out for:

  • Be careful of being lured to websites with misleading website names that appear similar to legitimate websites.  This can be confusing for anyone not familiar with the legitimate webpages. You can only apply for a subsidized plan on Nevada Health Link: https://www.nevadahealthlink.com/.
  • Always verify the license of someone trying to sell you insurance. You can verify a license by visiting the Division’s website at https://di.nv.gov/ins/f?p=licensing:search. If someone is not licensed, it is probably a scam.
  • If you aren’t sure if a plan is ACA compliant, you can take two actions:
  • It is also important to review a plan's policy documents before purchasing the plan to ensure you are buying a product that fits your health insurance needs. The Division can help with that as all ACA compliant plans’ supporting documents like Evidence of Coverage and Schedule of Benefits are posted under each plan at https://doi.nv.gov/Health_Insurance_Rates/Rate_Review/

Partner Resources  

ARPA Marketing Assets
COBRA Fact Sheet
Nevada Health Link