If there’s a time that people need access to the right health insurance and health care, it is during the global coronavirus pandemic. However, in the U.S., about 30 million people have filed for unemployment benefits so far, and many people in the country get their health insurance with their jobs. Research from the Kaiser Family Foundation saw that 27 million people have lost their health policy.
The good news is that the report also revealed that the vast majority of people who lost their insurance may remain covered by switching to a spouse’s plan or qualify to acquire indemnity health insurance elsewhere — either through Medicaid or using a plan on the ACA insurance exchanges (healthcare.gov marketplace).
The main point of this report is the Affordable Care Act is serving as the safety net it was meant to be. Obviously, the ultimate irony is it is performing this role when the Trump government is arguing before the Supreme Court, which needs to be struck down.
The question now is how many who lost their coverage will enroll in a new plan. Medical insurance is complicated, and registering can be challenging. There are many stressors on people at the moment. You may be unemployed, you may be sick, you may be quarantining — and there is only a limit to how many lifestyle things you can deal with at once.
However, the clock is ticking. If you have lost coverage due to a job loss, that is what is known as a “qualifying life event” You may visit your state’s insurance exchange or Healthcare.gov right now to select a new individual or family plan. Each person has 60 days from the day their coverage was ended to find and buy a new health insurance plan.
So again that needs to happen within 60 days of losing coverage — and for people who lost their health insurance, there is no time to lose. Here’s a guide to a few options if you are among the millions who have recently lost their job and health insurance:
Health Insurance Options During the Coronavirus Pandemic
I was let go and had insurance with my job
You might be able to have the same health plan under national rules called COBRA if you worked for an organization with 20 employees. One perk of COBRA is it provides the maximum continuity of policy, as you stay in precisely the same plan you’re in when you’re employed — the same network of physicians and hospitals, same allowance — everything is the same.
Although, this continuation of your health policy can be expensive because, at least under normal conditions, you would have to pay the full monthly premium. Your insurer must inform you if you’ve got the COBRA option, and you’ve got 60 days to choose to take it. (For people who lost coverage in July, the clock is ticking to select this alternative).
The next place to visit is the insurance providers set up under the Affordable Care Act. Loss of health insurance coverage that you got with your job is deemed a”qualifying event” to register in a plan on all medical insurance firms.
That implies you can visit Healthcare.gov or your state-run exchange and search for a new strategy. The Kaiser Family Foundation has a reliable subsidy calculator. You can see what you could pay in premiums for these programs — keep in mind that your unemployment perks count as income on the exchanges.
Again, you only have 60 days to decide on this option after losing coverage (if you don’t live in a state that’s created a particular enrollment period), so be sure and enroll in that time window. If your income was close with the lost job, you should also check to see if you are eligible for Medicaid, the federal medical insurance program for low-income individuals that are jointly financed by federal and state authorities.
Medicaid enrollment takes place throughout the year and is based on monthly income, not yearly income, and it is essentially free. You are more likely to be eligible if you reside in among those 37 countries and D.C. that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
I never bought health insurance.
Your options to get covered if you are one of approximately 28 million Americans who were uninsured even before the COVID-19 outbreak depends on your location. Medicaid can work for you, but the rules for eligibility (such as the income cut-off) vary. States that haven’t expanded Medicaid — that is how Obamacare increased coverage to 12 million previously uninsured people — have more restrictive rules about who qualifies.
As per Kaiser foundation, nearly 6 million adults already eligible for Medicaid before COVID-19 but weren’t enrolled. If you are not eligible for Medicaid, look to the state insurance exchanges set up under the ACA.
The Trump government has decided not to start a particular enrollment period for Healthcare.gov, the national insurance exchange. However, some states operate their own insurance marketplaces and have designed a special enrollment period during the COVID-19 crisis. In these states — including hard-hit areas like California and New York — which means that you don’t need to get a”qualifying event” such as job-based coverage loss or the birth of a child to newly enroll in an Obamacare plan.
It’s worth to see if you can enroll and find an inexpensive plan. Based on KFF, over 4 million uninsured individuals who were uninsured before the coronavirus crisis would be eligible for a subsidized ACA health program, which would cost them almost nothing in monthly insurance premiums.
One thing to note is that Congress has set funding in a number of its emergency funding bills that may assist health systems and hospitals covering COVID-19 care for the uninsured. “While uninsured people might still get bills from suppliers, [these federal funds] can cut the burden on patients since the hospitals will be compensated at least partly for their costs,” states Corlette of Georgetown University.
White House executives have pointed to this funding for a reason why a national special enrollment period might not be required. Uninsured patients’ bills related to COVID-19 may be forgiven by hospitals and physicians, the White House suggests. Several details about how federal funding will be distributed are still up in the air, and it’s confined to care and to test related to the COVID-19.
While COVID-19 is quite a present risk at the moment is many people’s minds, people have health care requirements that go beyond the coronavirus. If you wind up with cancer, for example, or a burst appendix and you are uninsured, that might be ruinous, and that’s why health policy experts advise if possible getting covered.
My children’s coverage discontinued as well.
There will be over 5 million individuals who won’t have access to insurance they can afford, even with all the choices mentioned previously. If you can’t get health coverage for the adults in your family, your kids might still be able to get coverage — the norms are different for them, and also for pregnant ladies.
In Florida, there is a program called, Healthy Kids, and is a fantastic place to begin to learn whether your children might be eligible.
Image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay
What about temporary health insurance or”skinny” plans?
Temporary or short-term medical insurance plans were originally intended to be used for several months to tide people over between the end of schooling and the beginning of a new job, for instance. Since that time, the Trump government has encouraged these programs, and their affordable premiums, as good long-term options.
But the plans have limitations in what they can cover than ACA plans do. They’re permitted to limit enrollment to people without preexisting conditions, by way of instance, and don’t need to cover all” essential benefits” contained in most Obamacare plans. They might exclude prescription medication; they may cap how much they will pay at a hospital. So, if you have a look at one of those short-term plans, you need to read the fine print carefully.
What is covered by health insurance during the coronavirus’ period?
Congress has required that the expense of coronavirus testing be covered by insurance companies (though testing is still not necessarily available). What is less clear is how much your treatment will cost you if you get ill and have to be hospitalized for coronavirus or COVID-19.
Hospital and emergency care are deemed essential advantages. They have to be insured, but patients may still need to fulfill the yearly deductible of their coverage and cover things like coinsurance and copays in addition to that. Some big commercial insurers have vowed to remove these patient costs for COVID-19 therapy, and several nonprofit community health programs also have. The limited availability of diagnostic testing may make it difficult to prove you qualify for these benefits.
Regrettably, surprise bills are a big concern — those bills which come from out-of-network hospitals or physicians who provide your care. Almost 1 in 5 inpatient admissions for pneumonia ends in a surprise bill, according to a KFF analysis. It is possible, members of Congress will attempt to address this in coronavirus laws. Still, until they do, this will remain a way that individuals could be vulnerable to high medical bills.
If you get a surprise bill from coronavirus treatment, the same suggestion applies as always (this is familiar to people who follow NPR’s Bill of the Month Series): Call your hospital or physician and/or insurer, and attempt to negotiate a bill. If they don’t budge, consult with the hospital or doctor to see if they can help you with a payment plan, or forgive the debt, as a part of a charity care program.