It’s particularly important to have health insurance now more then ever because almost all health-care plans, are currently waiving co-pays, deductibles and out-of-pocket costs for testing for coronavirus. Also, many insurers are waiving fees for telemedicine services and some are even covering various treatment options for COVID-19. All of these additional benefits mean nothing to those without health insurance, and the costs can add up tremendously.
If you have lost your job, here are some options you have for health insurance.
Is a program that extends your current health insurance plan for up to 18 months after you lose your job. COBRA covers employees, as well as their spouses, former spouses and dependent children if they were originally covered.
Determine whether you are eligible for COBRA by asking your HR rep, or reach out to your state’s labor office. There are a few requirements that must be met, (for example, your employer doesn’t need to offer COBRA if there are fewer than 20 employees) but in general, this will be your least expensive way of maintaining the insurance you’ve had. Don’t be shocked, though, the payments will dramatically increase because, up until now, your employer has been paying a portion of your premium.
Typically, you have about 60 days to enroll once you receive the COBRA notice. If you initially waive coverage, but then find you need it, you can still enroll as long as you’re within the 60-day window. Keep in mind, however, once you opt into COBRA, you cannot switch to a plan through a health insurance marketplace until open enrollment begins or until COBRA ends in 18 months.
Plans through the marketplace
Look at your state’s health insurance marketplace options. Losing job-based health insurance coverage, even if you quit or get fired, qualifies you for a special enrollment period.
You have about two months, 60 days, after you lose coverage to enroll in a marketplace plan. Keep in mind that coverage may not start immediately. Marketplace plans go into effect the first day of the month after your last day of work.
You can also look into joining a spouse, partner or family member’s employee-sponsored plan.
You may qualify for Medicaid. In some states, Medicaid is available for all adults under a certain income threshold, but you’ll need to check with your state. Healthcare.gov has a calculator where you can plug in your home state, family size and income level to use to see if you qualify.
If you served in the military and were honorably discharged, under certain circumstances you may be eligible for coverage through the Veteran’s Administration (VA). The VA website provides a great tool for determining your eligibility.