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Pa. officials: Fed programs helped make health insurance coverage more accessible

KYW Radio Philadelphia 2/2/2023 Jim Melwert
Health insurance. © Provided by KYW Radio Philadelphia Health insurance.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Pennsylvania officials are praising the effect federal programs like the Inflation Reduction Act have had on Pennsylvania’s state-run health insurance exchange.

The commonwealth’s health insurance marketplace is called Pennie, making Pennsylvania one of 18 states with its own health insurance marketplace.

Lt. Gov. Austin Davis said the federal Affordable Care Act was a good start, but many Pennsylvanians didn’t qualify, or tax credits weren’t enough to help lower-income families.

“The American Rescue Plan, and then the Inflation Reduction Act, helped build on the Affordable Care Act by making the tax credits more generous, lowering premiums for working-class families,” said Davis.

He said about a quarter of Pennsylvanians who get health insurance through a marketplace are small business owners or self-employed.

“We're talking about people like hairdressers like my mom, or restaurant owners or other entrepreneurs,” said Davis. “We're also talking about middle-income older Pennsylvanians who have retired or don't have coverage through their jobs.”

Pennie Executive Director Zach Sherman says about 372,000 Pennsylvanians signed up for a health plan through Pennie this year.

“Almost 90% of our customers receive financial savings, which on average is more than $520 a month. The savings can be the difference between someone having coverage and someone going without,” said Sherman.

“Lowering cost barriers to critical health care service is key to improving health outcomes, so a key overall objective opinion is to ensure that Pennsylvanians are covered.”

Sherman says Pennie is also set up to help people navigate enrollment and eligibility, either over the phone or through a new chat feature.

A two-and-a-half month open enrollment has ended, but Sherman points out there are opportunities to enroll following life-changing events like getting married, having a baby, losing your job, or if you meet certain income requirements.

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