April 09, 2020
This article was originally published by the Alabama Department of Insurance on April 6, 2020.
If you lose your job, you may also lose your health insurance. If you’re unsure where to start looking for new coverage, this guide is here to help you navigate your options.
You can purchase health insurance for yourself or your family on the federal marketplace at www.healthcare.gov. While enrollment is generally held from November 1 to December 15, healthcare.gov allows for a special enrollment period for life changes like having a baby, getting married or losing your health insurance because of a job loss.
You will have 60 days to enroll after you lose coverage or if you expect to lose your coverage in the next 60 days.
Depending upon your income, you may be eligible for a subsidy to help you pay your premium. Additional assistance to pay for co-payments for your medications or doctor visits may also be available if you qualify. To see if you may qualify for a subsidy before purchasing a plan, visit the Kaiser Family Foundation Website. Please note that this website is for informational purposes only.
To sign up for a plan, you will need to:
- Work with a licensed insurance agent; or
- Visit healthcare.gov to directly sign up for a plan with the federal marketplace; or
- Call 1-800-318-2596.
When you look at the price of a plan, be sure to factor in the cost of the deductible and out-of-pocket expenses. You also want to ensure that your medical providers are in the plan you select.
You will need to fill out an application to purchase a plan on healthcare.gov. You may also be asked for additional information about the loss of your previous health insurance coverage. Once you fill out the application, you’ll find out if you qualify for a subsidy to help you pay for your premium and your out-of-pocket healthcare costs. You might also discover that you or members of your family may be eligible for Medicaid or the ALL Kids program. If you purchase coverage through the federal marketplace, your coverage date is based upon when you pick a plan. Typically, the coverage will start on the first day of the month after you pay your premium.
There are two companies currently offering coverage on the marketplace in Alabama: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama and Bright Health.
If you had coverage through your employer and your employer had more than 20 employees, you may be eligible for continuation of your health insurance coverage through your employer plan. The coverage can continue for up to 18 months. Some may choose this option if they have already had significant medical expenses and have met their deductibles or out-of-pocket expenses under their plan.
Carefully research your options before making a decision. The cost may be more expensive than a plan on the healthcare.gov marketplace. You’ll need to consider that you will pay the full premium costs, without any contribution by your former employer or the government, plus you will pay an additional administrative fee. To find out more about those costs, contact the human resources division of your former employer.
If you opt for COBRA coverage, your ability to obtain a healthcare.gov marketplace plan may be limited until the next open enrollment period. An open enrollment period typically runs from November 1 through December 15. If you are outside of the open enrollment timeframe, the only way to get into a marketplace plan is through a Special Enrollment Period, during the next open enrollment period, or if your costs of the COBRA coverage change. You may be locked into your COBRA plan for some time until one of those events occur, resulting in significant cost to you.
ALL Kids is administered by the Alabama Department of Public Health and provides low-cost healthcare coverage for children and teens under the age of 19 who live in Alabama. With ALL Kids, parents can have peace of mind knowing quality healthcare for their children is affordable.
If you have questions, call ALL Kids toll-free at 1-888-373-KIDS (5437), Monday through Friday, to speak to a Customer Service Representative.
Questions concerning the Federal Marketplace or COBRA may be directed to:
Yada Horace at email@example.com or
Anthony Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org.