Special Open Enrollment Period for Uninsured Because of COVID-19 Pandemic

At the height of unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic where 31 million jobless claims were filed (March 1 through May 2, 2020), the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates 26.8 million Americans were impacted by loss of Employer-Sponsored Insurance plans.

Some stop-gap solutions for many who lost health coverage due to layoffs and closures has been an Affordable Care Act (ACA) Marketplace plan or coverage through Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP).

The Federal ACA open enrollment period ending December 15, 2020 saw 1.88 million new enrollees among the 8.25 million health insurance plans purchased from the Marketplace.

On January 28th of this year, President Joe Biden signed an Executive Order that opens a special enrollment period – February 15 through May 15 – to offer a second chance at subsidized coverage for Americans who struggle to afford health insurance.

At last count (2019), 28.9 million non-elderly Americans are uninsured.  The high cost of premiums was the reason 73.7% of the uninsured people who were surveyed chose to go without a healthcare plan that year.

However, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the government agency that administers the ACA Marketplace, has made recent strides in lowering premiums, garnering carrier participation, and stabilizing a Federal program that had been in a tailspin.

In an effort to address affordability for most consumers, the ACA allows for subsidies to offset the cost of plans for families earning up to 400% of the Federal poverty level – $12,760 per wage earner.  This means if you are uninsured and your income is less than $51,000 ($100,000 for a married couple), you will most-likely qualify for premium assistance on a Marketplace plan.  In some cases, enrollees are paying no monthly premium for health coverage under the ACA.

Selecting a healthcare provider and plan can become an overwhelming and confusing process. The Affordable Care Act of 2010 created the Navigator function to help small businesses, self-employed, and workers without Employer-Sponsored Insurance plans to find and select the health insurance option that best fits their needs.

Sequoyah Group offers ACA Marketplace Navigator services as licensed insurance agents and brokers, in compliance with Federal law.  Call toll-free 866-216-6038 to speak with a Navigator.

During the current special open enrollment period, you have until May 15th to get coverage under a Marketplace plan, and if you already have a policy through the Marketplace, you may also change plans during this special open enrollment period.

Carrying health insurance is just one way to protect yourself from financial hardships while between jobs. For other money-saving tips and resources for workers displaced by COVID-19, see this article on couponchief.com.