Lost your Job? Don’t Lose Hopes there are Still Options to Get Health InsuranceApril 3, 2020
A job for a majority of Americans is not only a means of a paycheck but also a source to receive health insurance. But with the surge in unemployment rate amid the coronavirus pandemic, many workers who are laid off are left with no health insurance. With over 180,000 Americans testing positive and many being hospitalized, people here are in the dire state looking for some miracle to happen.
However, at the time of desperation a piece of good news has arrived, people now have more options to buy health insurance on their own, mainly due to the Affordable Care Act.
All those employees and workers who recently lost their job-based coverage should check out the health plans available on the Affordable Care Act exchanges by visiting the website Healthcare.gov. People should remember, there is only a 60-day window to take advantage of this special enrollment period, after the end of their employer-based coverage.
Obamacare plans can be expensive, so the federal government provides subsidies on health premiums for the lower and moderate-income groups. It is a category in which many recently unemployed people can fall into. Subsidies in health plan premiums are offered to individuals with incomes of up to $50,000 a year or families of four who are earning up to $103,000.
People with more meager earnings become eligible for plans that come with lower deductibles and out-of-pocket costs. These plans are offered to individuals having an annual income of up to $31,250 or families of four earning up to $64,400. Nevertheless, people with extensively low income do not qualify for Obamacare subsidies, though they may be eligible for Medicaid in many states.
Americans, who were uninsured before the coronavirus pandemic, and are currently looking for health coverage can sign up for the Affordable Care Act plans, which are available in all the 11 states and the District of Columbia that run their state exchanges. These states have come up with special enrollment periods that are open for a limited period. However, the Trump administration has not reopened the enrollment for the uninsured people in the remaining 38 states, which use the federal exchange.
For all the current Obamacare enrollees who have either lost their jobs or making less money, this is the best time to return to the exchange and discover if they qualify for more subsidies that will eventually lower their monthly premiums.
Americans who recently became jobless and have suffered a major drop in their income have a greater chance of qualifying for Medicaid, especially in the 36 states and the District of Columbia, which have expanded eligibility under the Affordable Care Act for lower-income groups. Thus, individuals in these states with income around $17,500 or less in this year and families of four with an income of up to $31,150 are eligible for Medicaid. However, states are looking at people’s income at the current time while determining eligibility. The monthly income limit for an individual to qualify for Medicaid is about $1,470 and for a family of four, the monthly income limit is $3,000 to qualify for Medicaid. Though, people are expected to report the changes in their earning, if any in the future.
People can apply any time for Medicaid plans either online or over the phone through their state Medicaid agencies, and most of the states determine eligibility within 24 hours, as stated by Kaiser Family Foundation. Medicaid is a government healthcare program, which provides comprehensive coverage with no or very low premiums and out-of-pocket costs. The only drawback of this program is, it has a more limited network of doctors who accept this plan. However, it is difficult for people to qualify for Medicaid in states that have not expanded eligibility under ACA, particularly those people who are without dependent children.
Kids in the United States can still be eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), based on their family income and the state in which they live.
People who have recently lost their job but wish to keep their employer-based coverage can generally continue it for another 18 months under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, known as COBRA. However, it is quite an expensive option because people have to pay the employer’s share of the monthly premium too. On average, last year’s total annual family premiums cost about $20,600 according to Kaiser and single coverage costs around $7,200 annually.
In the time of crisis, though some employers are providing relief to their employees by continuing coverage to their laid-off workers, at least for a short period.