Money Health

Unemployed Due to Covid-19? Here’s How That Affects Medical Benefits

How Unemployement Affects Medical Benefits
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The coronavirus pandemic has led 6.6 million people to file for unemployment. If you’re one of these people, you may be wondering what will happen to your health insurance coverage. The bad news is that your employer-sponsored health benefits probably won’t come with you when you lose your job. The good news is that you have a number of options to get the health insurance you need. Here’s what you can do if you’ve lost your job and medical coverage due to the pandemic.

Get on a family member’s plan

If your spouse is still working and has an employer-sponsored health insurance plan, find out if you can add yourself to their plan. Keep in mind that if you go this route, you have 30 days from the time your former employer stops paying for your coverage to enroll in your family member’s plan. In the event you’re under 26, the Affordable Care Act will allow you to receive coverage under your parents’ health insurance.

Look into Medicaid

Medicaid is a great option that offers low-cost, comprehensive healthcare benefits. If you think you don’t qualify for Medicaid, do some research — you may now be eligible. Fortunately, 36 states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid coverage. If you live in one of these states or D.C., and earn up to 138% of the federal poverty level, you may sign up for it. The federal poverty level is:

  • $17,609 for individuals
  • $23,792 for a family of two
  • $36,156 for a family of four

Use the Affordable Care Act marketplace

The Affordable Care Act Marketplace is a federal website you can use to browse a variety of affordable health insurance plans, compare them, and make a purchase. It may be an option if you’re not eligible for a family member’s plan or Medicaid.

If your expected income for 2020 falls between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level, you may be able to lock in the Premium Tax Credit. Essentially, the Premium Tax Credit is a subsidy that can help make your health insurance premiums through the marketplace more affordable. You may qualify if your income falls within these ranges.

  • $12,490 to $49,960 for individuals
  • $16,910 to $67,640 for a family of two
  • $25,750 to $103,000 for a family of four

It’s important to note that most states depend on the Affordable Care Act Marketplace to help their residents find coverage. However, if you live in the District of Columbia or one of 12 states that has their own marketplace, you’ll need to use that option instead. Here are the websites for these marketplaces.

California Covered California
Colorado Connect for Health Colorado
Connecticut Access Health CT
District of Columbia DC Health Link
Idaho Your Health Idaho
Maryland Maryland Health Connection
Massachusetts Massachusetts Health Connector
Minnesota MNsure
Nevada Nevada Health Link
New York New York State of Health
Rhode Island HealthSourceRI
Vermont Vermont Health Connect
Washington Washington Healhplanfinder

Consider COBRA

Through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), you may be able to keep your health insurance benefits when you lose your job. While COBRA may be a fine choice, it’s essential to understand a few things before you commit to it.

  • Coverage doesn’t last forever: In most cases, you can stay on COBRA for up to 18 months, as long as you make your monthly premium payments. So once the COBRA period is up, you’ll have to find an alternative way to receive coverage.
  • COBRA is expensive: When you receive health insurance benefits through your employer, all you have to pay for is part of a premium that’s usually deducted from your paycheck. With COBRA, however, you’re responsible for the entire premium. In addition, you’ll have to pay a 2% administrative fee.

Don’t leave yourself uninsured

While it may be tempting to go without health insurance for a while in order to save some cash, doing so is a risky move. Even if you consider yourself a healthy individual, you’re still at risk for the coronavirus or another condition that may require costly medications and doctor visits. By securing health insurance shortly after you lose your job, you can save yourself from thousands of dollars in possible medical debt and achieve some much needed peace of mind.

Keep your finances healthy too

Learning how to deal with debt, money, and unexpected financial road blocks such as lost health insurance coverage doesn’t need to be hard. Here at Freedom Debt Relief, we’ve created a simple to follow guide to help you find the tools you need to manage your debt and create a better financial future. Get started by downloading our free guide right now.

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Anna Baluch is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about all personal finance topics. She’s particularly interested in mortgages, retirement, insurance, and investing.