Local News that matters directly into your inbox

With the president’s expansions of the Affordable Care Act, nearly 730,000 uninsured Latinos in the US, many of them in Florida, will be newly eligible to save money on healthcare coverage.

For several years, Natalia Jaramillo dreamed of establishing her own consulting and public relations business. Only one thing kept the Colombian mother of a 3-year-old daughter from fulfilling her longed-for professional goals.

“Not having health insurance through an employer made me afraid to strike out on my own. Who would pay my medical costs, or my child’s?” Jaramillo told The Americano. 

Enrolling in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) gave her the security she needed to establish her business without the fear of what could happen to her financially if she or her daughter were to need medical attention. 

RELATED: Biden’s COVID Relief Plan Is a Huge Deal for Women. Here’s How.

For others, like Judy Ann Santiago, the ACA has been literally a lifesaver.

“I had to have major surgery and I didn’t have the money,” the Puerto Rican owner of a hair salon in Florida told The Americano. “As I waited, the risks became bigger, because it could be cancer. Once I was enrolled in the ACA, I was able to have my surgery.”

Increased Benefits

Now the American Rescue Plan (ARP), also called the COVID-19 Stimulus Package, which was recently signed into law by President Joe Biden, can improve the affordability of coverage for individuals who are already enrolled in marketplace health plans, like Santiago and Jaramillo. It can also provide millions more an opportunity to newly sign up for coverage with increased financial assistance this year. Over $3 billion in additional federal funding for healthcare will be allotted to Florida alone.

This means that nearly 730,000 uninsured Latinos in the US, many of them in the Sunshine State, will be newly eligible to save money on healthcare coverage, and 580,000 will be eligible for zero-dollar benchmark marketplace plans.

These are some of the benefits the new plan provides:

  • Many premiums will decrease, on average, by $50 per person per month and $85 per policy per month.
  • Four out of five enrollees (up from 69% pre-ARP) will be able find a plan for $10 or less per month after tax credits.
  • Over 50% (up from 14% pre-ARP) will be able to find a Silver plan for $10 or less per month.
  • One out of four enrollees will be able to upgrade to a higher plan category that offers better out-of-pocket costs at the same or lower premium compared to what they are paying today.
  • Anyone who receives unemployment benefits in 2021 qualifies for the highest subsidies available.
  • COBRA will be 100% subsidized until September.
  • COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccines are covered with no cost-sharing, and that includes 100% of the vaccines and vaccine’s administration; there are no income limits or citizenship requirements. 

For more information on ARP plan benefits, visit the US Department of Health and Human Services.

RELATED: How the For the People Act Could Revolutionize US Politics

Be Proactive

“But these benefits will not just come to you,” Angel Bosch, general director of the Dade-County Medical Association in Florida, told The Americano. “They don’t happen automatically. You have to ask for them. And don’t think that because you didn’t qualify before, you don’t qualify now,” he stressed, adding that those who were already participating in the ACA need to reapply to receive these new benefits.  

“However, it’s important that people know that these provisions are for two years,” Bosch pointed out.

Deadline and Eligibility

The open enrollment for the marketplace coverage has been extended to May 15.

To verify your eligibility visit https://www.healthcare.gov/

To obtain the information in Spanish, visit https://www.cuidadodesalud.gov/es/

If you do not have access to the internet, contact your healthcare agent (the person who sold you your healthcare coverage) and ask for information.