(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, highlighted new data showing the American Rescue Plan lowered premiums for thousands of people in Washington state who get their health insurance from the Washington Health Benefit Exchange (Exchange). Seeing how many people were losing their health insurance or seeking new insurance during the pandemic, Senator Murray fought to include these provisions in the American Rescue Plan.
“The American Rescue Plan was the biggest expansion of health care since the Affordable Care Act, and the tax credits we included for families are already cutting health care costs for people in Washington state and across the country,” Senator Murray said. “The pandemic made access to quality, affordable health care all the more crucial, so I’m glad we’ve been able to get more people covered and lower premiums for over a hundred thousand people in Washington state, and more across the country. I’m going to keep fighting to make these steps permanent and take the bigger, bolder action families need us to, because there is a lot more we must do to make sure health care in this country is truly a right—not a privilege.”
The American Rescue Plan, among a host of other provisions, lowered health insurance premiums for millions of Americans who buy insurance through the marketplaces, and subsidized continuation health coverage (COBRA) for those who had lost their employer-sponsored coverage. These provisions also followed President Biden authorizing a Special Enrollment Period for individuals and families to apply and enroll in the coverage through the exchanges, allowing more people to get insurance. Senator Murray has since called for these changes to be made permanent.
Within two months of the American Rescue Plan passing, the Washington state exchange was among the first in the country to make all the new savings under the American Rescue Plan available to Exchange customers, including extra help for those reporting unemployment income in 2021. In addition, the Exchange automatically applied the new American Rescue Plan savings to eligible current customers so they could receive lower premiums without needing to take additional action.
The result in Washington state has been that 138,000 people, almost two-thirds (64%) of people who get health care through the exchange, saw their premiums drop—and for those who saw their premiums drop, they dropped by an average of $90 a month. Additionally, the rate of new enrollment more than doubled (160% increase) after the American Rescue Plan went into effect.
See more special enrollment period data HERE.
Last month, Senator Murray announced her intention to begin developing legislation to establish a strong public option and lower health care costs.