COVID-19 has resulted in unprecedented impacts on each of us.
I know, I know – another Coronavirus story – right?
If you’re one of the fortunate whose work and health insurance coverage are not impacted share this with a friend who may not be as fortunate and skip this story to look at the nice photos and advertisements.
But many are facing very tough decisions. For example: My position was terminated. I had great health coverage through my company plan but now that is ending. I can enroll in a COBRA option but have to pay all of the premium plus an administrative fee. With no job and no income I cannot afford the premium. What can I do?
The material within attempts to share some options and provide resources for you to reach out to for assistance.
Please note that yes, these are unprecedented times and as more is learned changes are made, deadlines are moved and new options are introduced. Some of the information written today may change. As of this writing, the resources listed were active.
Stay at home orders were advised and “Non Essential” businesses were told to shut down.
Self-employed clients were some of the first to feel the economic impact and reach out saying “My business is closed and my income has changed dramatically. I have health insurance but it is no longer affordable – what can I do?”
For California Individual & Family plans – existing Covered California members may be able to lower their monthly premium payment if they have had a loss of income due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. How much a member pays monthly is based partly on their income. If their income goes down, they may be able to seek financial help from the federal government, the state or both. They may also qualify for a no-cost Medi-Cal plan.
Off-exchange members may be able to receive financial help if they obtain coverage through Covered California. Go to www.CoveredCA.com to see if you qualify for financial help.
This just in! In an agent alert dated June 23, Covered California announced that they had extended the COVID-19 special enrollment deadline through July 31.
The COVID-19 public health emergency is considered a special qualifying event where anyone eligible can enroll in an off-exchange plan listing COVID-19 as a qualifying life event (this enrollment period ends June 30, 2020 and no extensions were known at writing.)
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act initially allocated $350 billion to help small businesses keep workers employed amid the pandemic and economic downturn. Known as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the initiative provides 100% federally guaranteed loans to small businesses. Congress then approved an additional $310 billion in funding. Find more information at www.treasury.gov and www.sba.gov/paycheckprotection/find.
FEMA declared the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak as a national emergency and major disaster. This declaration allows for a one-time Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for those affected by COVID-19, who were unable to and did not make an election during another qualifying election period as a result of the emergency and major disaster. This SEP applied to all 50 states and is scheduled to end June 30, 2020 (at writing, no extensions were advised)
Insurance carriers; Aetna, Anthem Blue Cross, Blue Shield, California Choice, Health Net, Kaiser, SHARP, United Health Care and others have reached out to employers and members providing support and resources needed to protect themselves and their families. Some carriers are extending coverage for care from home and waiving out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 treatment received from in-network provider.
For employer sponsored group health plans, California Choice allows employees who are currently furloughed, not working, or those whose hours have been reduced that would otherwise have lost eligibility to remain on the group plan, allow employers to make some mid-year plan changes and will consider extending the current grace period for premium payments.
Standard COBRA and state continuation protocols apply to fully insured plans when employees leave employment as a result of COVID-19. For more on coverage options visit www.healthcare.gov.
For help contact your carrier. Call their member services line or visit their website, and reach out to your health insurance broker.
For insurance agencies the health of our clients and the communities we serve is top priority – now more than ever.
Like our clients, many agency partners have downsized, reduced expenses and are looking into new ways to increase revenue all while adopting new work environments.
As of this writing, California has begun to reopen. But at the same time Governor Gavin Newsom warns that the state is not even through the first wave of this pandemic. For more information visit covid19.ca.gov/ or for local information visit sandiegocounty.gov/coronavirus.html.
We believe we will get through this together and that tomorrow brings the promise of good health, economic recovery and prosperity.