A Closer Look at the Uninsured Marketplace Eligible Population Following the American Rescue Plan Act
2021 Premiums come from KFF analysis of premium data from Healthcare.gov and state rating filings. Data on population, income, and eligibility for subsidies come from KFF analysis of the Census Bureau’s 2019 American Community Survey (ACS). The ACS includes a 1% sample of the US population and allows for precise state-level estimates. The ACS asks respondents about their health insurance coverage at the time of the survey. Respondents may report having more than one type of coverage; however, individuals are sorted into only one category of insurance coverage. The 2019 ACS collected income and coverage data from respondents before the pandemic, but there are various reasons that the data are still a reasonable basis for current uninsured eligibility analyses. First, the national uninsured rate has stabilized in recent years and expectations are that it has remained relatively flat thus far during the pandemic. Second, at least prior to enhanced subsidies outlined in the ARPA, the number of uninsured people eligible and ineligible for subsidies have also stayed generally consistent. Under the previous ACA subsidy structure, KFF estimated the number of uninsured people eligible for free bronze plans had fluctuated between 4.0 and 4.7 million the past three years.
This analysis does not include individuals who are over the age of 65, who are eligible for Medicaid in 2021, who have incomes below poverty, or are undocumented immigrants. We exclude individuals who are uninsured but have an affordable offer of employer-based coverage. Under the current ACA structure, workers and their family members are ineligible for tax credits if any worker in the household is offered “affordable” health insurance through their employer. Employer coverage is considered affordable if the worker’s premium contribution for self-only amounts to less than 9.83% of household income.
Unsubsidized premiums used in this analysis are the full price of plans, rather than specifically the portion that covers essential health benefits (EHB). Since premium tax credits can only be used to cover the EHB portion of premiums, some of the individuals denoted as having access to a “free” bronze plan might actually have to pay a very small premium for non-essential health benefits if they enrolled in a bronze plan with added benefits. The ACA does not permit federal subsidies to pay for abortion coverage and requires plans to collect no less than $1.00 per month for this coverage. In CA, IL, NY, ME, OR, and WA, state law requires that that all state regulated plans include abortion coverage. Policyholders who live in these states must pay the abortion surcharge even though they may qualify for subsidies that provide the full cost of premiums if they select a bronze plan. Providence Health Plans in OR and WA have a religious exemption allowing them to exclude abortion coverage.