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More than 50 percent of Americans get their health insurance through their employer, and with some experts warning that unemployment could peak at 47 million, millions of Americans could lose their coverage as a result of the virus outbreak. A recent analysis by the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute forecast that 3.5 million workers lost their insurance in just the last two weeks of March.
If you are among the employees laid off, be sure to check your current health insurance benefits, because coverage may last through the end of the month.
There are options for workers who lose their coverage.
If you don’t qualify for Medicaid, you may be eligible to get a plan on the Affordable Care Act marketplace. Individuals whose expected 2020 income falls between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (for individuals, that’s $12,490 to $49,960) can qualify for subsidies on their insurance premiums.
Average ACA plan costs are $331 a month for the lowest tier, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Under current law, people who lose their job and employer-based insurance qualify for a special enrollment period through ObamaCare, but must provide proof that they lost their coverage. Typically, they need to apply within 60 days of losing their job for coverage.
Eleven states -- California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington -- that control their own marketplace and the District of Columbia have established special enrollment periods to allow people to obtain coverage.
Americans with employer-based health insurance who contract severe cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, could end up with out-of-pocket expenses that top $1,300, the Peterson-Kaiser Family Foundation Health System Tracker found. The cost could surge above $20,000 for uninsured Americans.
For those who can afford it, COBRA, or the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, often lets workers at companies of 20 or more employees extend their coverage for up to 18 months after losing their jobs. Individuals who select that option are then responsible for paying both their own and their employer’s portion of the premium, plus an extra fee.