As the U.S. economy continues to flounder in the midst of social distancing, millions of people have lost their jobs, and along with them, their healthcare. About twelve million people are estimated to have lost their health insurance from March to August 2020 alone. In response, the Biden Administration has opened the ACA insurance marketplace, healthcare.gov, until May 15th so that people can enroll in affordable plans who have lost their insurance or switch their plans if they would like to. Here’s what you need to know.
What's Different About This Enrollment Period?
Healthcare.gov is usually only open for enrollment for a few months in the fall each year. Outside of that period, people can only get health insurance on the marketplace if they can prove a “qualifying event” such as losing a job, getting married or having a baby. Generally, you have 60 days to sign up after an event. During this spring’s special enrollment period, anyone can sign up, whether they lost a job or not, and they won’t have to prove any eligibility.
On the marketplace, you can get subsidies for private insurance and also find out if you are eligible for Medicaid. Even if you already have health insurance, its worth logging onto the marketplace and providing your income information if you’ve had a change in circumstances due to the pandemic, because you might be able to get more subsidies for healthcare or qualify for lower cost care.
Can You Change Your Plan?
The special enrollment period for the healthcare.gov marketplace doesn’t just allow people to sign up for new insurance plans if they are uninsured; it also allows you to switch your health insurance plan to something with better coverage or more affordable premiums. So even if you already have insurance, it’s worth doing some research on the marketplace to make sure you don’t want to make a change.
Who Can Sign Up?
There are 36 states that utilize the federal healthcare.gov marketplace, and anyone in those states will be able to sign up during the enrollment period. However, all the states that use their own marketplaces except Idaho have also opened up their own enrollment periods, so you should be able to get coverage no matter where you are (Idaho still may open up their marketplace).
What If You’re Using COBRA to Get Insurance?
COBRA is a federal law that allows people who have lost a job to extend their healthcare coverage, but it requires you to pay extra fees on top of your full premium. Using COBRA to extend your insurance is likely more expensive than going through the marketplace. If you’d like to, you can drop your COBRA plan now and use the marketplace to get a plan.
Skip is in the process of developing a healthcare enrollment service so we can help you navigate the process to get healthcare. In the meantime, we will be sharing updates and tips for dealing with the healthcare system here on the Skip blog and in our app. You can get the latest info and notifications by downloading our app here.