‘American Rescue Plan Will Help More Coloradans Afford Health Coverage’ By Building On What Is Working

Apr 26, 2021

DENVER – Following the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) – which builds on what’s working in health care – there is now more federal financial assistance for Coloradans to obtain affordable health coverage. The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) recently announced “Individuals and families of all income ranges can now qualify for reduced premiums … People who were making too much money before may now qualify for financial help to reduce premiums.”

The ARPA increases federal subsidies available to Coloradans by broadening eligibility for Coloradans at higher income levels eligible for premium subsidies on individual market coverage, and removes the current 400 percent Federal Poverty Level (FPL) eligibility cap of $51,040 for individuals and $104,800 for a family of four. The ARPA expands affordability by increasing the premium subsidy amounts that go to individuals enrolled in individual market coverage.

As health care leaders work together to lower costs, protect patient choice, expand access, improve quality and foster innovation, Colorado Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway states:

“With these changes, many Coloradans could be looking at very inexpensive coverage, even $0 premium plans … Even though the special enrollment is extended to August 15, if anyone needs coverage for themselves or their families, now is the time to get enrolled. Or if you have coverage, but didn’t qualify for assistance before, take the time to re-apply and see how much financial help you could get.” (Colorado Division of Insurance, 4/21/21)

As a result of the ARPA provisions that include an expansion of Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies, new COBRA subsidies, and additional Medicaid coverage – the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) estimates: 

  • One out of five (21 percent) customers could potentially have a $0 premium if they were to stay with their current plan.
  • Two out of three (64 percent) customers could potentially have a $0 premium if they were to enroll in the lowest cost plan available to them.
  • Three out of four people could potentially have a $25 premium or less if they were to enroll in the lowest cost plan available to them.

new federal analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) finds that “the number of people eligible for a subsidy to purchase Marketplace coverage has increased 20 percent from 18.1 million to 21.8 million with passage of” ARPA, while “the majority of uninsured people (63 percent) are now eligible for financial assistance through the Marketplaces, Medicaid, or Basic Health Plans. In fact, more than 4 out of 10 uninsured people are eligible for a free or nearly free health plan through one of these programs.”

recent analysis by the Brookings Institution highlights the significant new resources made available through ARPA and cautions that “the potential for future action requires states to remain nimble in their decision-making.” The expansion of the new federal resources available to lower insurance premiums for Coloradans has “profound implications for state health policy, aiding state efforts to make coverage more affordable and accessible,” the Brookings analysis finds, warning that lawmakers in Denver should take “caution against making lasting changes” to their states’ health care policies “until matters are clearer.”

As lawmakers debate House Bill 21-1232 to create a new state government-controlled health insurance system known as the state government option, the evidence continues to show that the time has never been better to build on and improve what’s working in health care. 

The majority of Colorado voters – 73 percent – prefer for lawmakers to build on Colorado’s health care system rather than create a new state government option, according to a recent poll. It’s time for Colorado lawmakers to slow down, consider the significant benefits of new federal policies for expanding affordable coverage, and not rush through an unaffordable proposal for a state government-controlled health insurance system that puts Colorado’s economic recovery and integrated health care system at risk.