How to maintain your healthcare coverage during the COVID-19 Lockdown
California health officials are now allowing anyone who has lost a job or work hours because of business closures related to the coronavirus to sign up for health insurance, making it the seventh state to open enrollment so you can maintain healthcare coverage.
Earlier this week, 80,000 Californians filed for unemployment in one day – the normal rate is 2,000 a day – and many of them lost their health coverage along with their jobs. Officials at Covered California, the state’s Affordable Care Act marketplace, are expecting hundreds of thousands of people to seek coverage due to job loss through the course of the pandemic.
How do I get coverage if I lost my job?
Start with Covered California. If you’ve lost your job and have no income, most likely you will qualify for free or low-cost coverage through Medi-Cal, the state’s insurance program for low-income Californians. If you lost hours at work and are earning less money, you may qualify for a subsidy to help you pay for a new plan; however if you already have a plan through Covered California, you will likely qualify for additional financial aid.
You also may be able to keep your job-based health plan through COBRA continuation coverage.
COBRA is a federal law that may let you pay to stay on your employee health insurance for a limited time after your job ends (usually 18 months). You pay the full premium yourself, plus a small administrative fee, which can be quite costly. Make sure you compare your options and make a decision on which option is best for you.
If you didn’t have insurance when you were employed, you can still buy a new health plan now. Previously, only people who lost a health plan after losing their job could sign up through the individual marketplace anytime. During the special enrollment period, anyone can sign up and maintain their healthcare coverage.
What if I have a health plan but I miss a payment?
California has a three-month grace period on paying health premiums. If you miss a monthly payment, your insurer will continue to pay your health care bills. If you miss a second or third payment, your insurer can stop paying claims, but can’t cancel your coverage. You have three months to catch up on your payments before your healthcare coverage is terminated. Maintaining healthcare coverage will benefit you in the long run should you become ill and have to visit a doctor or an unexpected stay at a hospital.
If I get the coronavirus, will I be facing a big medical bill?
California regulators now require insurers to cover the complete cost of testing for the virus, so no copays for consumers. On the other hand, experts estimate the cost of a hospital stay for coronavirus is about $20,000. If you’re insured, out-of-pocket costs are an estimated $1,300. But if you have a high-deductible plan, which a lot of people do, you may be required to pay the maximum annual out-of-pocket cost, which is over $6,000 in California.
During this challenging time, Skyline Benefit is in it together with you. We offer free enrollment services for both Medi-CAL and Covered California. Contact our team at (714) 888-5116 or you can get a free instant Online Quote now without having to visit our office.