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More health insurance subsidies are available through Inflation Reduction Act, but the sign-up deadline is fast approaching

Maeve Conran
Rocky Mountain Community Radio
Provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act means many Americans can avail of cheaper health insurance in 2023. The open enrollment deadline is January 15.

This year four out of five Americans are eligible for Affordable Care Act health coverage for $10 or less a month thanks to increased subsidies in this year’s Inflation Reduction Act.

About 11 million people have already signed up for 2023 coverage, about 13% more than last year, but nearly half of all insured adults have neither looked for information about the marketplace coverage nor tried to obtain it.

Open enrollment closes on Sunday, January 15.

Alexis Kenyon spoke with Laura Packard, a Denver-based healthcare advocate and founder of Healthcare Voices, to get a better understanding for this year’s deadlines and extended benefits.

Alexis Kenyon: So to start, tell me about the ACA deadline that's coming up on Sunday.

What do people need to know?

Laura Packard: Well, Sunday, January 15, is the deadline to sign up.

This is open enrollment, which means that anyone can enroll, and you can still enroll after the deadline if you have a specific reason, like you lost your job or you got married or a life change.

But for most people, the deadline is Sunday.

Alexis Kenyon: Okay, so, but for those who think they might not qualify, or they have checked it out in years past and didn't get any financial benefits or coverage, what should they know, is there anything different about this year's coverage than years past?

Laura Packard: Yes, so Biden's IRA, the Inflation Reduction Act, it made health insurance more affordable through 2025, so for the next few years, and depending on your income level, it could be quite a lot.

Premiums are capped at 8.5% of your income and whether you can get subsidies based on your income and based on you not having good health insurance through your employer, those have been extended through the Inflation Reduction Act.

So maybe in the past, a few years ago, you tried to get health insurance and it was just too expensive for your family, you can go back now, check it out, see how the prices compare.

And plans are more affordable than ever for many Coloradans.

Alexis Kenyon: So enrollment is actually up this year, even before the deadline.

It's about up about 13% compared to where it was at last year.

Why is enrollment up and who is signing up for this coverage?

Laura Packard: Well it's 3 million new people, it's close to 16 million overall, that's nationwide.

And in fact, it's record signups this year.

And I think that it's a few different things.

I think that the Inflation Reduction Act makes it more affordable for lots of people that couldn't get it before the pandemic.

And also the Biden administration believes in the Affordable Care Act and is doing promotional work on it as opposed to cutting the promotional outreach efforts.

So I think it's some better marketing, it's the pandemic and it's that it's more affordable.

Alexis Kenyon: Are there any healthcare scams that people should avoid?

I mean, I'm pretty internet savvy, but when I first started looking into ACA I was confused.

And then there's the state one and the federal one, so what should people know?

Laura Packard: Well, I think it's good to start at connectforhealthco.com because then you know you're looking at Affordable Care Act plans.

If you just go to Google and google "health insurance," you could see ads from maybe places that are less reputable.

And one thing to especially be aware of is health sharing ministries.

Health sharing ministries are not insurance.

It's a group of people often religiously affiliated it really isn't coverage at all and you could find out unfortunately the hard way when something actually happens.

So start a connectforhealthco.com and you know, at least you're starting with reputable ACA plans.

This story from KGNU was shared with Aspen Public Radio via Rocky Mountain Community Radio, a network of public media stations in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico including Aspen Public Radio.

Alexis Kenyon is a news reporter at KGNU radio in Boulder.