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Tasmiha Khan's picture


A new study by FamiliesUSA finds that millions of newly unemployed Americans have lost health insurance. With the current moment we are in with the pandemic, health insurance is more important than ever. If you or a loved one have lost their insurance, there are several options. 

First, if you’re newly unemployed then take advantage of special enrollment periods to sign up for plans offered on the Affordable Care Act’s insurance marketplaces. Others find they qualify for Medicaid. Some might have the option to stay on their former employer’s plan, even while bearing the full cost themselves. Under the federal health law, people who experience certain “life events” — such as moving, getting married, having a baby or, in this case, losing your job and job-based coverage — qualify for a special enrollment period. Applicants must submit certain documents to prove they qualify for special enrollment, such as proof of prior job-based coverage. Because of COVID-19, some navigators report, these requirements have been loosened.

In general, people have 60 days after they lose their job-based insurance to use that as a reason to qualify under an ACA special enrollment period. It’s also important to watch the calendar if you live in a state that runs its own marketplace and opened it for a special enrollment period because of the coronavirus outbreak. Finally, an option few may be aware of: People who otherwise qualified for a special enrollment — say, by losing job-based insurance — but failed to sign up within the 60-day window because they were affected by the COVID-19 emergency — perhaps they were sick or were caring for someone who was ill — might qualify for additional time, according to the federal government’s website,

In addition, there are other options for getting coverage now. Look within your family
You might have access to employer-based coverage through a family member’s plan. Check your Medicaid eligibility — even if you don’t think you qualify. Head to the marketplace;
If you’ve lost job-based coverage but don’t qualify for Medicaid, consider the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. 

Consider COBRA (if you can afford it). COBRA, short for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, generally lets workers at companies of 20 or more employees extend their health coverage for up to 18 months after losing their jobs. 

Be wary of short-term health plans though. While the low cost of these plans can be appealing — monthly premiums are as low as $25 in some places — they can deny coverage to people based on preexisting conditions, offer relatively limited benefits, and can cancel your policy if you get sick.


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