The COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. caused nearly 500,000 deaths and societal disparities despite government efforts toward basic health measures. However, some of the states have collated along with medical societies, patient and consumer advocacy groups, and others have come together and launched a program called “Get Covered 2021” to lower the uninsured numbers in the nation. Around 28 million people under the age of 65 in the U.S. are without health insurance coverage. Among the uninsured population, at least 16 million people are eligible for financial assistance to reduce their costs of coverage. This makes 6.7 million people eligible for free or low-cost health coverage under their state’s Medicaid program and 9.2 million people eligible for subsidies under a state or federal insurance marketplace, as per Get Covered 2021. Among the subsidies eligible individuals, 4 million people can obtain Bronze plan at no cost if they enroll in the plan during the Special Enrollment Period. Thus, to protect and advance health care during a crisis, the government is trying to provide a health coverage safety net.
The healthcare professionals need to gear up and be proactive in their approach to educate and inform people about the Special Enrollment Period that is giving them another opportunity to obtain a health plan and get covered. In the 36 states that use HealthCare.gov, the Special Enrollment Period runs through May 15, allowing the uninsured population of the states an opportunity to enroll in a health plan. However, even the remaining 14 states along with the District of Columbia that operate through their marketplaces have also announced Special Enrollment Periods. Though the duration of the SEP is not the same, and these states have their specific deadline for enrollment. Idaho was the last state to announce SEP and their period runs from March 1 to March 31, whereas The District of Columbia will be offering enrollment through the end of the COVID-19 medical emergency.
In this dire situation, everyone should have access to affordable and meaningful health insurance coverage, and even healthcare professionals also believe the universal health coverage can only be achieved by providing increased financial help to patients that will make health coverage affordable for them. The states that have not yet expanded Medicaid should be incentivized, and steps should be taken to automatically enroll low-income individuals in no-cost health coverage, and loss of health coverage due to pandemic-related unemployment should be minimized. Along with these, some other major steps will help to achieve the goal of universal coverage that has eluded the nation for decades. The partnership of all the major players in the health care sector is going to prove detrimental, as all represent a consensus that health coverage should be provided to all.