Affordable Care Act health insurance is cheaper than ever. Here’s how to apply.

President Joe Biden checks his watch while answering questions during a news conference on January 19, 2022. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

By Kyle Kaminski

December 8, 2023

Cost-saving measures included in President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act can provide health insurance coverage to 80% of Michiganders for less than $10 a month. Sign up by Dec. 15 to get covered by Jan. 1.

MICHIGAN—Nearly 140,000 Michiganders have enrolled in a healthcare insurance plan for 2024 through the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment period so far this year, according to state officials. And because of President Joe Biden’s efforts to lower costs with the Inflation Reduction Act, about 80% of Michiganders will be eligible to get coverage for $10 or less per month next year.

But the clock is ticking for those who haven’t signed up and still need coverage by next year.

Open enrollment for the 2024 health insurance runs through Jan. 15, 2024. And in order to get coverage by Jan. 1, Michiganders must sign up for coverage no later than Friday, Dec. 15.

This week, US Rep. Hillary Scholten (D-Michigan) said that about 4.6 million more Americans are eligible for tax credits this year to help lower their insurance premiums under provisions that were included in the Inflation Reduction Act. They just need to fill out an online application.

Even Michiganders who are satisfied with their current health plan have also been encouraged to update their marketplace application to ensure they’re getting the most savings they can get.

State officials are also available to help. Call 877-999-6442 for more details on getting started.

“This coverage is just so critical,” Scholten said. “I’m so proud to join my fellow Democrats in Congress and President Biden in helping ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable, and equitable care. We are continuing to see health care needs rise, and health care expenses—unfortunately—grow. The need for quality, affordable care has never been greater.”

‘Saving Real Money’

When Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law last year, it marked a major effort in lowering healthcare and prescription drug costs. More than a year later, Michiganders are still reaping the benefits of the bill—including through Medicare reforms that sharply lowered drug costs for many of the roughly 1.8 million Michigan seniors with Medicare Part D coverage.

Beyond the notoriously expensive shingles vaccine, the law also includes no-cost coverage for a wide array of other shots, including for tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, hepatitis, influenza, and COVID-19. The Inflation Reduction Act also put a $2,000 cap on Medicare recipients annual out-of-pocket prescription drug costs, beginning in 2025. In Michigan, an estimated 672,860 seniors are expected to save $365 a year due to this provision, according to a federal analysis.

The law also established a $35 monthly cap on insulin for Medicare recipients and extended generous subsidies (through 2025) that helped make Affordable Care Act health insurance plans more affordable for working- and middle-class families. Roughly 63,000 Michiganders were set to lose their individual coverage had those subsidies instead been left to expire.

Other provisions ensure that all families will be eligible for plans that require them to pay no more than 8.5% of their income toward health insurance coverage, and ensure that Americans with incomes at or below the federal poverty line don’t have to pay a monthly premium at all.

These changes and more are saving real Americans real money—including granting the federal government the power to negotiate Medicare drug prices directly with drug companies,” Scholten said this week. “This is such a critical step. Price gouging and holding American consumers, patients, and people in need of prescriptions hostage is just unconscionable.”

All told, the measures included in the Inflation Reduction Act are saving about 85% of Michiganders with ACA coverage an average of about $414 on their monthly healthcare insurance premiums, officials estimate.

“These are incredible gains, but we have to keep going. Unfortunately, efforts are mounting among republicans to reverse all of this historic progress toward ensuring affordable, quality, care for all Americans,” Scholten said this week. “We continue to hear promises from Republicans that they will repeal both the Affordable Care Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.”

‘War on Healthcare’

Last month, former President Donald Trump—who spent his first term trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act—once again attacked the popular legislation, noting that he was “seriously looking at alternatives.” He also criticized the few Republican holdouts who voted “not to terminate it” back in 2017, including the now deceased former Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

The suggestion was initially met with crickets from fellow Republicans who haven’t thought seriously about repealing the law in years. But in recent weeks, some prominent Republican politicians (like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis) have latched onto the idea in their own campaigns.

With Biden still in office, the Affordable Care Act is safe. But if Donald Trump wins the presidency and enough Republicans are elected, the law could once again be at risk of repeal.

Repealing the Affordable Care Act would rip away healthcare insurance from nearly 40 million Americans who get coverage through the ACA marketplace or its Medicaid expansion, and enable insurance companies to once again deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.

In Michigan, about 1.3 million people would lose their insurance and about 1.8 million with pre-existing health conditions could lose critical protections, federal estimates show.

Advocates have said that the loss of the ACA would be particularly devastating for people of color, older adults, rural communities, people with disabilities, and the LGBTQ community.

“Anyone who thought the Republican war on health care was over has their head in the sand,” Brad Woodhouse, executive director of Protect Our Care, said in a statement last week. “Donald Trump once again opened the door for Republicans to tell the truth on health care: they want to repeal the ACA and rip away protections that touch nearly every household in this country.”

READ MORE: Republican Senate candidates vow to take away health insurance from 1.3 million Michiganders

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Follow Political Correspondent Kyle Kaminski here.

Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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