Since the COVID pandemic, according to NPR, approximately 33.5 million people have filed for unemployment. Given that most people get their health insurance through their work, this means in addition to losing their job, many are losing their health insurance.
Older Americans are the most at risk for serious complications resulting from COVID-19, so if there’s a time that people need access to good health care, it’s during this pandemic.
Fortunately, the vast majority of those who have lost their health insurance can still remain covered. Here are several options available to those that have recently lost their health insurance and what to look for from insurance providers.
Extended Enrollment Periods
Due to the coronavirus, some health insurance companies might have extended enrollment periods. If you missed your chance during your enrollment period, now might be the perfect time to inquire about getting the health insurance you need.
Many insurance providers are offering this courtesy extension, so take full advantage while you can. In addition to extended enrollment periods, some health insurance providers are allowing new members to enroll in new plans online without the need for physical signatures.
If you haven’t done so yet, find out whether you can enroll for health insurance online with your selected provider. If you’re enrolling in Medicare, you’ll be able to enroll online.
Finding a healthcare provider that offers low-cost or free plans based on your income can be helpful if you have limited income. If you need to switch plans, call your insurance company and ask about your options for getting the same (or similar) coverage for a lower price.
You can also look at switching to your spouse’s plan if they have been able to keep their job. You may also be eligible to get subsidized health insurance elsewhere — either via Medicaid or via a plan on the Obamacare insurance exchanges.
Waived Co-Pays and Deductibles
In light of COVID-19, some insurance companies are waiving all member copays and deductibles for certain services. If you’ve been affected by COVID-19 or your health insurance or healthcare has become too expensive, contact your insurance provider and ask about waiving co-pays and deductibles for any medical treatments you might have scheduled. They might just work with you. It never hurts to ask.
Why You Should Consider Medicare
If you’re nearing or over the age of 65, consider Medicare as an option when looking at health insurance plans. Checking your Medicare eligibility can let you know when you’ll qualify for the four different parts of Medicare (Parts A, B, C, and D).
Typically, you’ll be eligible for Original Medicare (Parts A and B) if you’re a U.S. citizen or you’ve been a legal permanent resident for at least five consecutive years and one of the following applies to you:
- You’re eligible for Social Security
- You have end-stage renal disease (ESRD)
- You’re under 65, permanently disabled, and you receive disability benefits from the Railroad Retirement Board or from Social Security
- You have ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), or Lou Gehrig’s Disease
To apply for Medicare, you’ll have to do it online since Social Security offices are closed. However, enrollment is limited to people who are at least 64 years and nine months old and not currently enrolled in Medicare or receiving Social Security benefits.
If You Need Assistance, Ask For It
Insurance providers across the country are doing all that they can to accommodate new and existing customers. If you’re struggling right now, consider contacting your health insurance provider to ask about what they can do to keep your insurance affordable.
From extending enrollment periods and providing online enrollment to waiving co-pays and deductibles and offering similar, cost-effective options, insurance companies have several ways they might be able to help during these challenging and uncertain times.