Stimulus creates changes to health care enrollment; free counseling available

Press release from Mountain Projects:

American Rescue Plan Makes Positive Changes to Marketplace Health Insurance

Counselors of Mountain Projects ( are ready to assist consumers

Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Graham, Swain, Clay, Cherokee Counties & Qualla Boundary – The COVID-19 relief plan, now called the American Rescue Plan, makes several important changes to the ACA Marketplace Insurance program as follows:

New calculations of premium tax credits provide significant financial help starting May 1. The increase in tax credits means consumers will pay less out of pocket for their share of the premium starting with their May 1, 2021 bill. Consumers who are already enrolled should update their applications in April to get the new lower premium starting in May. Lower out of pocket premiums may help some people buy a silver or gold plan with lower deductibles and Out of Pocket maximum. During this special open enrollment ending May 15, people can change plans if they think better options are now affordable.

Some people with incomes over 400% of poverty may now qualify for subsidies for Marketplace insurance. Out of pocket cost to those consumers is capped at 8.5% of household income starting May 1. Out of pocket premium amounts could possibly be reduced by as much as 35-40%.

The American Rescue Plan also eliminates the repayment of excess premium tax credits when adjusted gross income is higher than reported on the marketplace application for the 2020 tax year.  Because 2020 was such a rollercoaster year for many people, anyone receiving  tax credits to help pay health insurance premiums will not have to pay back any excess tax credits received when filing 2020 tax returns. If you have not filed your 2020 tax return yet, any repayment you would have owed will be waived. If you have already filed 2020 returns and had to repay excess credits, you will have to call your tax preparer to file an amended return.

Also any taxpayer who received unemployment in 2020 can does not have to claim up to $10,200 of unemployment benefits as taxable income on 2020 returns. This will lower taxable income and affect the calculation for the premium tax credit which could affect your possible tax refund amount.

For changes  affecting your 2020 tax returns, you must consult your tax preparer. If you have already filed 2020 returns, you tax preparer can file an amended return to get you the benefits from these changes.

The Mountain Projects Certified Application Counselor program ( offers local, free in-person or over-the-telephone assistance for people already enrolled in ACA Marketplace insurance, or for people still looking for affordable health insurance. To see how much more affordable Marketplace insurance may be for you, call Mountain Projects at 828-452-1447.

This program is made possible by funding from The Kate B Reynolds Charitable Trust and Dogwood Health Foundation.

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