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Biden stimulus bill provides free health care to millions — but you've got to act fast

President Biden fourth stimulus check
(Image credit: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Biden administration's American Rescue Plan that was passed in March provides no-cost (or very low-cost) health insurance for some taxpayers for the last six months of 2021, and enrollment is now available via the HealthCare.gov marketplace. 

Under the most recent stimulus relief package, anyone who has filed for unemployment for at least one week in 2021 (or whose spouse did so) may qualify for a tax credit equal or close to the cost of a "Silver" plan on the government-run healthcare exchange established by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. 

The credit will cover all or most of the amount of the premium for the second-lowest Silver plan available where you live — regardless of your current income. 

A special enrollment period for this benefit opened on July 1 and runs through Aug. 15. The credit is available for the remainder of this year. 

Anyone who has coverage through an ACA marketplace — not just individuals and families who received unemployment compensation — can adjust their existing plans during this period, although there are some disadvantages to doing so. 

For example, if you've already paid money out of pocket toward your deductible, it likely will not count toward a deductible on a new plan. 

How to find out if you're eligible for low-cost health coverage

To determine if you qualify for a tax credit to cover a health-insurance plan, go to HealthCare.gov and enter your ZIP code. If you're already enrolled in an ACA marketplace plan, you can log in and update your application. 

If your state has its own ACA marketplace exchange, you'll be directed to that website, where you can find more information about the benefits available in your area. 

For example, New York residents who already have a marketplace plan can apply for the tax credit, and those who don't can enroll with the state to receive "nearly free" insurance. Californians, meanwhile, may qualify for Silver plans with premiums of $1 per month. 

If your state is on the federal ACA exchange — as in, you aren't prompted to click through to a separate state-specific site — head to HealthCare.gov and follow the steps to apply or update your information to see what's available in your area.  

Emily Long

Emily Long is a Utah-based freelance writer who covers consumer technology, privacy and personal finance for Tom's Guide. She has been reporting and writing for nearly 10 years, and her work has appeared in Wirecutter, Lifehacker, NBC BETTER and CN Traveler, among others. When she's not working, you can find her trail running, teaching and practicing yoga, or studying for grad school — all fueled by coffee, obviously.