• Stephen Warneke

Coronavirus Left You With No Health Insurance?

A record-breaking 40 million Americans have filed for unemployment. A loss of work oftentimes can mean a loss of health insurance. The irony of losing healthcare coverage because of a pandemic is not lost on us. Therefore, The Steve Warneke Show interviewed Tori Marsh, a Health Insights Analyst from GoodRX, who has options for those of you seeking coverage.

The good news is that thanks to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, cost-sharing for diagnostic testing for COVID-19 is now waived and free for everyone.


But, for the uninsured, DON'T FRET! THERE ARE OPTIONS!

  1. 1. Health Insurance Exchange (Obamacare)—You can sign up for an individual or family health insurance plan through a "health insurance exchange".

"Essentially, if anyone has lost their job, this is considered a qualifying life event. That means that people have about thirty or sixty days to enroll...go to www.healthcare.gov and really look at the plans that are available for them in their state..."

For those who missed the window or are unable to qualify, the next enrollment period for the Healthcare Marketplace (Obamacare) opens up again in November of 2020.


2. Check if you qualify for Medicaid or CHIP—Unlike state health insurance exchanges, there is no enrollment period for Medicaid or CHIP.


"Basically Medicaid qualifications vary state by state, but in the majority of states (about thirty six states that expanded Medicaid) you will qualify based on your income alone. So that means that, in these states, you'll qualify if you make less than 133% percent of the federal poverty level."

While you can apply for Medicaid at any time without needing a qualifying life event, just be aware you may be subject to a waiting period of 30, 60, or 90 days. You can see if you are eligible by visiting www.medicaid.gov.


3. COBRA Coverage—If you recently lost your employer-sponsored health insurance, you are eligible for coverage through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA).


"Essentially what it gives you is an option to continue the same exact health insurance coverage that you had under your employer."

Marsh explains the catch with COBRA is that you are now responsible for the entire premium, including the amount your employer used to cover. COBRA can be very expensive but might be a good option for coverage until you are employed or can enroll in November for Obamacare.


4. Adding Yourself to Your Family’s or Spouse’s Insurance Plan—Qualifying as a "Dependent".


"If you've lost your job, your health insurance, you're married, or you're under 26 that qualifying life event may allow you to be added to a family plan as a dependent," says Marsh.


If you're married and your spouse has health insurance, or your parents have health insurance and you're under the age of 26, have the member talk to their insurance company to see what's required for you to join.


5. Using Community Care or Hospital Charity Care Programs—What to do if you get sick and can't afford it.


"Some hospitals and some charities have programs to help people if they are hospitalized and they have expensive bills."

Marsh's advice is to do a quick Google search to see if there's a local hospital charity program near you.


For more information on coronavirus unemployment and your healthcare options, check out this article and more at GoodRx.com.

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Until next time...