On March 20, 2020, Ohio Governor Mike Dewine issued a bulletin in regards to insurance coverage during the declared state of emergency due to the coronavirus health crisis.
Insured individuals and businesses were given a 60-day deferment on paying their premiums. If this was your situation and you had your premiums deferred temporarily, they are now coming due. But you still may be unemployed or working fewer hours and be unable to pay those premiums. What can you do?
Your Health Insurance Options
Check your Medicaid eligibility. If you are living on a reduced income, you may be eligible for Medicaid. Visit https://benefits.ohio.gov/. Click on “Check Your Medicaid Eligibility.” If you find that you are eligible for Medicaid, you will be able to receive health benefits and care for very little cost to you.
Apply for coverage on Healthcare.gov. If you find that you are not eligible for Medicaid benefits, then you can apply for a new plan through the Affordable Care Act’s Healthcare Marketplace (referred to by many as “Obamacare”).
Normally, you can only apply for healthcare coverage through the marketplace during the annual open enrollment period from November 1 to December 15. But people with qualifying life events have 60 days before and 60 days after that event to apply, be approved, and buy insurance. Examples of qualifying life events are moving to a new state, changes in your income, changes in your family size (for example, if you marry, divorce, or have a baby), leaving jail, loss of employer based coverage, losing a job or turning age 26.
Update your income for reduced premiums. If you already get your insurance through the marketplace, you should log into your account and report your change in income. This ought to reduce your monthly premium cost and allow you to keep your insurance.
Check with your insurer to see if they will work with you. If you want to try to keep your private insurance, but simply can’t make the payments at this time, check with your insurer and read all documents they have sent the past few months. Many are delaying cancellation of policies at least temporarily, even if you can’t pay. Try to see if they will work with you. But be aware that there is a limited 60-day window to apply for a new policy through the Marketplace. If you think you might need to change policies, do it now.
Planning for Insurance Changes
If you lose your employer-based insurance due to a layoff or for some other reason, your company may offer an option to get extension coverage through COBRA. If they do, be sure to sign up for it. You won’t have to pay your first premium for 30 days, and in the meantime, you can research other options.
Health insurance can be confusing especially during these difficult times. Trying to negotiate getting the best available insurance coverage at a reasonable cost is the last thing most of us want to be dealing with right now. Consider finding a qualified health insurance agent to help you get the coverage you need and peace of mind.
Won’t Using an Insurance Agent Cost Me More?
As an individual, you don´t pay any more for health benefits purchased through a broker than you would if you purchased the coverage directly from an insurance company. By working with a broker, you get the benefit of their expertise not only at the time of enrollment, but for as long as you are their client.