COVID-19, Layoffs, and Health Insurance oh my

Andrew Stewart |

With 17 million Americans filing for unemployment this week and a pandemic on the rage the consequence that comes from this is that millions of people are losing their employer sponsored health insurance.  This can be a scary and confusing thing for people, especially with Emergency Rule 40 being issued by the Louisiana Department of Insurance.  There’s a deadly disease on the rise and they don’t have health coverage anymore, what do they do?  Well first off, if you’re in this situation I want you to take a deep breath and avoid panic.  There are a few scenario’s to consider, all of which end with you having the ability to obtain health coverage and having no lapse.  

Scenario 1: You were laid off after April 1st.  

You likely will retain your benefits until May 1st at which point you will need to acquire new coverage in the interim, accept your offer of COBRA or State Continuation, or with all hope be rehired as we re-open the economy.  You have numerous options available to you come May 1st depending on your prior income ranging from individual health coverage that may be subsidized by the federal government to applying for medicaid.  Please call me to discuss which route will best suit you.

Scenario 2: You were laid off in March

You currently don’t have health coverage; you need to act now to ensure you get covered.  You have, or will receive a COBRA or state continuation letter from your prior employer/health insurer this is your first line of defense for coverage, it is also your most expensive option.  You have the same options as are available to scenario one, and should get in touch to explore which is the correct move for you.

Scenario 3: You haven’t been laid off, but have been furloughed.

This scenario is complicated.  You have not been officially terminated by your employer, but sometimes insurers have requirements in place that require you to be working to receive group benefits coverage.  If your coverage is no longer going to cover you, you will receive the same offer of COBRA or State continuation coverage and have the same options as both other scenarios.  However, this is a situation where you may not lose coverage.  Discuss the situation with your employer and ensure you will retain coverage during the furlough.

Scenario 4: You didn’t have health coverage prior to the pandemic

This scenario is more limited in options.  There has been no special election period declared for the marketplace insurance plans, so unless you recently lost coverage or turned 26(or a handful of other reasons) you won’t be eligible to enroll into an Affordable Care Act plan.  There are however robust options for major medical that are covering COVID-19 related costs.  Please reach out and let me explain your options.  

Almost everyone should fall into one of these four scenarios, there are always unicorn scenario’s that don’t fit the mold however.  This is a time of turbulence and great stress for people, please don’t let your health insurance become one of those stressors.  Reach out and let me guide you through this process.