As of the writing of this post, there are a lot of disruptions in the economy due to the Coronavirus. Many consumers are losing jobs and some are having disruptions in their health insurance coverage.
If you’re losing your health insurance, you’ll want to know your options. We list the most common strategies below for obtaining permanent and transitional policies.
COBRA as an Initial Option
Electing COBRA is usually the path of least resistance if you’re losing group health insurance. How long your COBRA might last will depend on your group size, so you’ll want to ask your HR manager. For most, it’s 18 months. That buys you significant time.
Your insurance coverage will not change when you elect COBRA. However, you will pay the full price for your coverage plus a 2% surcharge. Your employer’s contributions toward your premiums will discontinue. You have 63 days to elect COBRA retroactively upon separation from employment. And there is no medical underwriting or waiting periods for preexisting conditions.
Medicare Insurance for Those Who Are Eligible
If you’re age 65 or older (or otherwise eligible for Medicare), then Medicare will become your primary insurance. You may need to enroll in Medicare Part B if you haven’t already. This process can be done online, over the phone, or at your local Social Security office if they are open.
Once you’re enrolled in Medicare Parts A & B, then you’ll want to work with an agent who specializes in supplemental policies. Medicare does not cover everything. It’s wise to fill in the gaps with either a Medicare Supplement policy and a Part D drug plan – or an all-in-one Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan.
There’s always a lot to unpack with Medicare. It’s somewhat complicated if you’re unfamiliar with how it works. And the choices you make now can affect your options to change down the road. Make sure to explore all of your options with a brokerage (like ours) so that you don’t miss any enrollment deadlines and incur any penalties.
Federal Marketplace Insurance (ACA – Obamacare)
If you’re under age 65 and COBRA is not a suitable or affordable option, then you can explore Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) plans. In most parts of the country these can be purchased on either the Federal Exchange or a state run exchange. You may not find the more common insurance companies you are used to. In some areas, there are only a small handful of plans to choose from.
You should talk to your family doctor about any ACA health insurance plans they might accept. You’ll also want to try and best figure your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) for the year. This number will determine whether you qualify for any tax credits. These credits can reduce your premiums as well as your deductibles and coinsurance amounts.
This process can all be a little confusing too. Agencies like ours can help you navigate your options on the insurance exchange where you should shop for coverage. And because of the Coronavirus, most companies are allowing for same day enrollment. This can help avoid any gaps in your insurance coverage.
Short Term Health Insurance Plans
Many of our clients turn to short term health insurance plans as a stopgap measure. These policies can be purchased for months at a time and can provide peace of mind until new insurance would be available. Short term policies are popular as their premiums are sometimes much less than plans on the Federal Exchange. This can be especially true for those who don’t qualify for tax credits.
There are some drawbacks, however. Most short term policies will not cover preexisting conditions. And they don’t always cover multiple doctor’s visits, preventive care, or expensive medications. If you are concerned about plans that cover pre-x, dr’s visits and meds, then you may want to consider an ACA-type plan.
But if you just need something until the next health insurance Open Enrollment window, or a new job begins, or even Medicare eligibility – then a short term plan can be a good fit. In fact, some plans can be purchased to cover up to three years at a time. Our younger, healthier clients prefer this strategy most often.
What About State Run Medicaid Options?
If you are applying for coverage on a Federal or State run exchange, you may receive notice that you qualify for Medicaid based on your income. Medicaid insurance can be a good fit for adults, children or both depending on eligibility. If you think you might qualify then you’ll want to contact your local office.
With all that’s going on right now, it may take more time to process your application. Many entitlement systems are overrun. And sometimes, those who apply may not qualify for coverage – or only their children are eligible through a CHIP program. If you’re not sure, then you may want to secure other insurance in the meantime.
Contact us for Quotes and Coverage
We are a full service health insurance brokerage. We can help you with short term plans as well as those that originate on the Marketplace. We can also assist with Medicare enrollments as well. We offer Medicare Supplements, Advantage plans, and Part D Drug coverage. Contact us to discuss your options today!