As the world continues the battle to slow the spread of COVID-19, many workers struggle with the economic realities inextribably bound to the fight. In order to better understand access to healthcare benefits for displaced workers, APC reached out to Hoopayz, a company dedicated to help employers and consumers find the right care and make the most of their benefits. President, Natalie Meyer gives her expert advice on understanding and handling benefits during COVID-19.
Currently about 22 million Americans have filled for unemployment, that figure is from CNN as of April, 16, 2020. Here are a few situations for people to obtain insurance if they lost their job:
COBRA - This is an option if the employee was offered insurance while they were employed. Under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), you're entitled to keep employer-provided health insurance that was in effect when you were let go or voluntarily chose to leave your job.
COBRA typically lasts for 18 months, although you can maintain coverage for longer under certain circumstances, such as if you have a covered disability.
*If it is important for an Individual to keep the same coverage (with same copays, same doctors, etc) as they had while they were employed, they generally have 60 days to elect COBRA coverage themselves yourself and their dependents. However this issue with COBRA, is that it is often very costly because the individual is now paying 100% of the insurance premium, where as when they were employed, a portion if not all the cost of the health insurance premium was being paid by the employer. COBRA is often a very costly option for indivuals that have been let go and have not option for income.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA)/ Obamacare- This is an option when someone looses their job through is what is known as a qualifying event. While open enrollment for the ACA marketplace is usually only open 1 time a year for a period of about 60 days, qualifying events trigger an opportunity for someone to sign up without them having to wait for the next open enrollment. For more info about what is considered a qualifying event, click here.
* An individual has 60 days period of losing their current coverage to sign up for a new one at Healthcare.gov or their state's insurance marketplace.
Medicaid- This may not be an option for everyone, this is dependent on what state an individual lives in. The Affordable Care Act provided for expanded Medicaid so more people could qualify, but not every state took advantage of the opportunity. So depending upon where an individual lives, they may qualify for benefits with income up to 133% of the federal poverty level. This link from the Health and Human Services website can help a person identify if they qualify.