Unemployment generated by COVID-19 has been for more than 21 million people in the United States
For some people this loss has been doubled since, when they have lost their job, most of them, have also lost their health insurance.
Today there are some non-profit associations that support and guide unemployed people to avoid running out of health insurance. There are also options such as:
- Continue with your ex employer’s health plan.
- Take advantage of the special enrollment period to enroll in plans offered under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
- Qualify for Medicaid.
Learn about and review your options as the enrollment deadline is approaching for some of them. Call us at 407.847.7000.
ACA Special Enrollment Period
ACA is an essential endorsement for many of the newly unemployed.
There are life changes that can help you to qualify for a Special Enrollment period. Some of them are if you or someone in your household has in the last 60 days:
- Got married.
- Had a baby, adopted or took care of a foster child.
- You got divorced or legally separated and lost health insurance.
Above facts can help you to qualify for a special ACA enrollment period. This means you can buy coverage without waiting for the annual enrollment window to begin.
People that request to register during this special period must present certain documents to support their registration.
During the Obama administration, in 2016, qualified people were randomly reviewed. However, during the Trump term this review was intensified to prevent abuses of the system.
Now, due to the situation generated by COVID-19, it seems that those controls of documentation prior to approval have been reduced, due to the difficulty of obtaining all the documents with the companies that work most of them remotely.
Currently, undocumented immigrants are not eligible to enroll in ACA, Medicare, Medicaid, or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) plans.
The importance of registering on time
Remember, you only have 60 days after losing your health insurance through work to qualify for the ACA Special Enrollment Period.
There is a similar consideration, given by the government, when a natural disaster occurs, if the people lose their jobs while COVID-19 patients or were taking care of someone who was COVID-19 sick, more time is given to register by the government.
For more information, you can check the ACA website https://www.healthcare.gov/.
Other Health Insurance Options
For some people, the best option is Medicaid.
Medicaid, is health insurance in conjunction with the Federal and State governments that does not require a special enrollment period: if people qualify, applicants can enroll at any time of the year.
In general, Medicaid and CHIP cover families with children, pregnant women, older adults, and people with disabilities. Eligibility is based on income and may vary by state.
The bad news is that 14 states have not expanded Medicaid under the ACA. In those states, some people, especially adults below the poverty line with no dependent children, may not be eligible for Medicaid coverage.
This creates an obstacle: They do not earn enough to rise above the poverty line, but they also do not qualify for an ACA subsidized plan. These people are caught in what is called the “coverage gap.”
How does COBRA insurance work?
COBRA stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Law. It is a federal law created in 1985 that allows employees to continue health insurance coverage, for a limited period, in the event of job loss or any other qualifying event.
Non-federal employers with more than 20 employees are required to offer COBRA coverage to qualifying employees.
Staying on a former employer’s plan, through this law, is also an option for some. The deadline to sign up has been extended to 60 days after the COVID-19 national emergency ends.
In a normal situation, the COBRA consumer must bear all expenses, and these can be substantial. However, during the pandemic, some employers share in that cost, and Congress could consider a full or partial subsidy in upcoming legislation.