With Coronavirus Spreading, the Health of Each is the Health of All

With a highly contagious virus circulating, we have every reason to fear this serious and life-threatening illness. If we can expect any positivity it is only through social solidarity. Finally, after a slow start, state and federal governments have come into action to provide relief and guidance for the people. Right from paid sick leave, to free Coronavirus testing, to increased unemployment insurance, and probably soon cash relief to individuals and loans to small businesses, the government is planning different types of financial aid for its citizens.

It has become essential for Americans to have smooth and easy access to Coronavirus testing as well as access to affordable care in case they become ill, to but a break on the spread of the disease. With the chance of many people losing job-based insurance, the Affordable Care Act is on standby, as it provides financial help to those who do not have access to job-based insurance. Many Americans will either be eligible for Medicaid or subsidized private plan coverage in the ACA marketplace if they lose their jobs.

To help people seek and find health coverage at this time of medical emergency, people can follow the below-given tips either to find coverage if they need or to reduce costs if they are already covered through the marketplace plans and their income drop.  People who seek health insurance coverage can visit ACA marketplace coverage, HealthCare.gov or state-based exchanges. People eligible for Medicaid can apply through their state Medicaid websites.

Now Americans have very limited ability to get tested for the Coronavirus but it is likely to change soon because several state and commercial test producers have come online. House Democrats have created the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which got signed by President Trump on March 18, which makes testing and associated office visits free for all Americans, irrespective of the fact that whether they have employer-sponsored or ACA-compliant individual market insurance, Medicare, Medicaid or no insurance at all. Treatment for people who require it is covered as per their insurance terms. Currently, people have to pay the deductibles and copays or coinsurance associated with their plan. Though, Government are advised to lift this tab too/

Ways to get ACA coverage in case of Lost Jobs

People who lose the job and their employer-sponsored health insurance with it become eligible for a special enrollment period in the ACA marketplace. Such people can apply either through HealthCare.gov or their states run own ACA exchanges. People can also seek assistance from a licensed broker or by calling the helpline. People whose estimated income along with expected unemployment insurance is below 400% of the federal poverty level, then they qualify for advanced premium tax credits or premium subsidies. It is a federal subsidy that covers most of the monthly premiums for health plans that are offered on the exchange. People if reside in one of the 38 states that use the federal website HealthCare.gov can know about the available plans and the amount they may pay for the coverage through the “See plans and prices” preview tool. Even most of the state-based exchanges offer similar tools where people are asked questions about their age, income, family size to provide them apt health plans available for them. people also have the facility of maintaining anonymity in this preview unlike in a marketplace application.

The 36 states and the District of Columbia, which have implemented the ACA Medicaid expansion, people need to qualify for Medicaid if they lose the job.

Here one thing is important to understand for the people whose income abruptly falls to zero that the ACA marketplace calculates subsidy eligibility and Medicaid eligibility based on yearly income whereas state Medicaid departments determine Medicaid eligibility based on monthly income. So people whose earnings before the loss of work were substantial and suddenly their income become zero or below the Medicaid threshold then such people should apply for Medicaid through a state office or website and not through the ACA marketplace.

People who are insured through the ACA marketplace and if their income drops, then they can report a qualifying life event through HealthCare.gov or through their state-based exchange. People may require to pay a reduced monthly premium or may newly qualify for cost-sharing reduction with a reduced income. People may also be newly eligible for Medicaid that usually has zero premium if they reside in any of the 36 states that have enacted the ACA Medicaid expansion. People who have bought an ACA-compliant plan outside the marketplace for 2020 and their income drop then they may be eligible for a special enrollment period to switch to subscribed marketplace coverage if they qualify based on their income.

Coverage Options for Uninsured

People who are uninsured and have not lost their insurance coverage within the last two months normally would not be able to purchase ACA-compliant plans until 2021, however, few state-based marketplaces have come out with emergency special enrollment periods for the uninsured that is open either till April 15 or early April. There is quite a possibility that the federal government will follow suit for the 38 states using the federal exchange, though it has not happened yet. Uninsured people should remember the Coronavirus testing where available will not cost anything.

It is worth knowing that despite all the above-mentioned options, there might be some people, who will not have access to a special enrollment period or they might be ineligible for ACA marketplace subsidies and may find the complete cost of coverage to be unaffordable. All such people may find short-term health plans as an option. However, people should keep in mind that these lightly regulated plans exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions and these plans do not cover essential health benefits covered by ACA-compliant plans and these plans are not even required to cover Coronavirus testing.

People if at all Possible should get Covered

Americans should be aware that affordable insurance is available to most of them and with the above- mentioned ways they are likely to find their way. Application and enrollment are not so complicated and usually can be completed within an hour and usually can be completed within an hour.and usually can be completed within an hour.

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