Untold numbers of small businesses have been forced to close or downsize as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. As a result, over 10 million individuals in the U.S. had filed for unemployment by the end of March alone.
As of the end of June 2020, California reported that the state’s initial unemployment claims increased to 982,331, or by 574.0 percent. This is significant for employee health insurance since close to half of the U.S. workforce depends on employer-sponsored health plans for their coverage.
No Job, No Health Insurance. What To Do?
For those fortunate enough to have a working spouse, or are younger than 27 years old, there may be an immediate option. However, if it’s not possible to add yourself to your spouse’s health plan or your parents’ plan, that means you need to find your own health plan.
The good news is that there are options.
In many states, including California, a special enrollment period is allowed for those who have lost their jobs – and their coverage – outside of the traditional open enrollment period.
According to Healthcare.gov,
“If you have just left your job for any reason and lost your job-based health coverage, you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. This means you can enroll in a Marketplace insurance plan any time of year. You usually have 60 days from the day you lose your coverage to enroll.”
In California, your options for a health plan due to loss of coverage include the following:
- An individual health plan on Covered California
- An individual health plan on Healthcare.gov
- Health Care Sharing Ministries
If you have been laid off from a full-time position, you will most likely be provided with the option of signing up for COBRA.
- If you lost your job-based coverage and haven’t signed up for COBRA yet, learn about your rights and options under COBRA from the U.S. Department of Labor.
- If you choose not to sign up for COBRA coverage, you can enroll in a Covered California plan since you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. Keep in mind you only have 60 days to enroll in a health plan, even if it’s outside the annual Open Enrollment Period.
Keep in mind, too, that any health coverage plan will be based on income, location, age, and the number of family members covered.
Signing up with Covered California is not difficult, however, navigating the various options that may be available can be tricky. At J.C. Lewis Insurance, one of the many services we provide is helping to navigate your choices and determining the best options for you.
If you qualify, the Covered California Marketplace may be your best option for purchasing health insurance. Individuals and families who qualify may receive tax credits toward their monthly health insurance premiums after choosing a plan from one of the carriers participating in the marketplace.
For individuals and families, this currently includes carriers such as Kaiser Permanente, Blue Shield of California, Anthem Blue Cross, Health Net, and Western Health Advantage.
Sometimes, if the only income you can currently report is Unemployment Insurance payments, for example, your income may be too low to qualify for carrier plans under Covered California. In those instances, the exchange may advise you that you qualify for Medi-Cal.
Medi-Cal is the California state’s Medicaid system that provides medical services for children and adults with limited income and assets. Beginning on January 1st, 2014, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) eligibility criteria for Medi-cal was expanded to include new subscribers under 65.
Eligibility is now primarily based on income for single subscribers under the age of 65 with income at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level. In 2020 that would mean $12,760 per year for individuals and $26,200 for a family of four.
Individual Health Plans
Of course, you also have the option of purchasing your own individual health plan outside of the Covered California exchange. Before purchasing individual health insurance, you need to think about your health care needs and budget. Then, compare various plans to find the most suitable fit.
California’s health insurance plans are referred to as “on-exchange” or “off-exchange.” Purchasing a plan on-exchange means buying a plan directly through Covered California. Purchasing a plan off-exchange, on the other hand, refers to enrolling in a plan directly through an insurance carrier.
At J.C. Lewis Insurance, we offer individual California health insurance plans only from leading health insurance carriers that are licensed to do business in California. In addition, we are licensed and certified by each carrier to offer coverage to individuals and families, as well as small group employers with 50 or fewer employees, and to seniors with Medicare supplemental and prescription drug plans.
Health Care Sharing Ministries
California does not allow for the purchase or sale of short-term health insurance. Instead, Californians can purchase health sharing plans through Health Care Sharing Ministries (HCSM).
According to HealthForCalifornia.com,
“Short-term coverage is only available through health care sharing ministries (HCSM) such as OneShare Health. These plans are not health insurance. These short-term health plans operate differently from health insurance plans and have fewer regulations from the government.
Participating in an HCSM plan exempts an individual from California’s personal health care mandate, allowing them to avoid paying the penalty. HCSMs provide coverage for people who might not be able to get coverage or afford it any other way. If you have a gap in coverage outside open enrollment, you cannot enroll in a health insurance plan. The only options available to you are health sharing plans.”
These affordable plans can fill gaps in coverage for periods that range between 30 days and 12 months, relieving the pressure while you search for a new position.
Your Local Experts For Health Insurance Coverage Guidance
J.C. Lewis Insurance is a family-owned firm of expert brokers based in Sonoma County offering California health insurance plans only from the leading health insurance carriers licensed to do business in California.
If you are unemployed and have lost your health coverage, an individual or family plan may be the best option for you or you and your family.
And if you’re looking to purchase medical insurance for you and your family, you will likely have many questions and concerns. Bring your questions about health coverage insurance and you can be confident that JC Lewis Insurance Services will help you find the right solution.