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Reimagine Everything: Special Enrollment Period and Increased ACA Subsidies Could Help Close Gaps in Health Insurance Coverage for AAPI Adults

By April 9, 2021April 15th, 2021No Comments

Ron Mori

If you or someone you know is without health insurance, please let them know that assistance is here, due to new policy changes to the Affordable Care Act.

A new analysis from AARP’s Public Policy Institute finds that nearly half of older adults purchasing health insurance through the nongroup health insurance market faced unaffordable health coverage in 2019, compared to 30 percent of younger adults.

As a result, a growing share of older adults remained uninsured: 9 percent of all people between 50-64 years of age, more than half of all older adults who don’t have access to job-based or public health coverage.

Prior to the Affordable Care Act, about one in five Asian older adults was uninsured. That declined after the ACA was passed but has increased again in recent years; 7.9 percent of Asian older adults did not have health insurance in 2019. Among older Hawaiian or Pacific Islanders, the increase in the uninsured rate has nearly eliminated the ACA’s coverage gains.

Lack of affordable coverage is one reason why many adults ages 50-64 remain uninsured. AARP’s analysis found that in 2019, a 64-year-old earning slightly above the threshold to be eligible for premium subsidies under the ACA faced an average premium that was nearly 30 percent of that person’s income.

Two recent policy changes could help older adults purchase affordable health coverage. (Photo: Courtesy of AARP)

Here’s why it is so important: Two recent policy changes could help older adults purchase affordable coverage. A provision of the American Rescue Plan Act caps the amount an individual pays for health insurance in the marketplace at 8.5 percent of income for two years.

This provision went into effect April 1, overlapping with a special enrollment period that allows people to purchase health insurance through the nongroup market until Aug. 15. Yes, this is not a typo: The deadline to apply is now extended to Aug. 15.

“While the Affordable Care Act has greatly reduced the number of older adults who are uninsured, coverage has remained unaffordable for far too many people aged 50-64, including many Asian American and Pacific Islanders,” said Daphne Kwok, vp of multicultural audiences at AARP. “We want to make sure that the millions of currently uninsured older adults know that new subsidies are available to them beginning April 1. Health insurance that was unaffordable in the past may now fit in their household budget.”

AARP is conducting an informational campaign that began April 1 to let older adults know about the special enrollment period and new subsidies that could greatly reduce the cost of health insurance for millions of Americans. They can visit for more information about how to get health insurance during this period.

Ron Mori is a member of the Washington, D.C., JACL chapter and manager of community, states and national affairs — multicultural leadership for AARP.