For hosts who have lost their health insurance or don’t already have health insurance:
If you don’t have health insurance or if you have recently lost your health insurance it is 99.99% likely that you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period and can get health insurance either on Healthcare.gov or your state’s healthcare marketplace, if it has its own. Also some states are extending the Special Enrollment Period to all residents without exception right now.
If you have lost health insurance at work and are paying for COBRA coverage, this still includes you because you are likely to get a better deal on the marketplace and possibly even the same insurance plan, so it’s worth checking it out. COBRA is usually the most expensive way to pay for health insurance. And qualifying for COBRA qualifies as a loss of insurance for the special enrollment period. It won’t hurt to have a look at other options.
Depending on your current income (or lack thereof), you may qualify for savings, tax credits or possibley even Medicaid for free. There are plans available that are very local-based, e.g. you need to use providers in your local area or that are part of a local hospital system (Kaiser in Los Angeles as an example). These will cost significantly less than plans with ‘National Provider Directories’ and it’s doubtful you’ll be needing a doctor 6 states away right now so I recommend these local/regional plans as your best bet right now.
If you don’t have health insurance and think you can’t afford it, then you will probably get some for free, so please look. It’s better to have cheap-ass health insurance than no health insurance at all. You do not want to show up at a hospital without an insurance card right now.
(For anyone who hasn’t used a marketplace for their health insurance before, please know that it is just “regular” insurance like BCBS, Humana, Cigna, Kaiser, etc - there is no such thing as “obamacare”, the marketplace is merely regular insurance like you would get at work but you can buy it as an individual.)
For hosts who already purchase health insurance from the Healthcare Market Place:
If you have your health insurance from either Healthcare.gov or your state’s marketplace, get on the website and update your income information asap. If you’ve had a decrease in income you may qualify for cost-sharing or tax credits that you didn’t qualify for previously. If you already have some cost-sharing or tax credit benefits, then you probably qualify for more now.
For hosts that have an HSA (Health Savings Account) or an MSA (Medical Savings Account):
If you have qualified for Unemployment benefits or are now paying for COBRA continuation insurance, you can now use funds from an HSA or MSA to pay your health insurance premiums as they will be considered a “qualified medical expense” (tax-free and penalty-free withdrawl) for the time period you are receiving unemployment benefits or paying for COBRA benefits. (COBRA is when you start paying for your health insurance from work after your employer no longer pays it, e.g. after losing a job).
Note: This is completely straight-forward for all HSAs and Archer MSAs. However, I am not sure about MedicareAdvantage MSAs and it’s unclear in the IRS docs so it would be best to contact your account or the IRS or your MSA servicer to see if your Part B or Part D or supplemental premiums might qualify. If anyone has this particular situation, I’d be happy to research and find out for you if you let me know.
For hosts who need to use their healthcare benefits right now:
Please consider using the Tele-Health benefits that nearly every insurance company and Medicare are providing right now. You can find information for them on your insurance’s website. A hospital, clinic or doctor’s office is the worst place to expose yourself to right now. Most states have made special provisions so that you can get what you need from Tele-Health services, including prescriptions, etc.
Please know that most states have made special rules for healthcare services and providers right now, as has Medicare. One example is prescriptions. If you have a prescription that you had strict timelines on (e.g. can only fill every 14 days or something), many of those restrictions have been suspended and you can refill sooner. Another example is what your insurance requires you to pay towards your deductible, there are exceptions right now. Healthcare can be difficult to navigate and there are a lot rules and provisions that add to that but many of them have exceptions or are suspended for right now. Your state’s dept of health and/or governor’s office should have details.
Also, perhaps your spouse/kids/friends/neighbors could benefit from this information. Health insurance premiums are one of the largest parts of people’s budgets and it’s also a bad time to lose or go without health insurance so please spread the word(s) - hygenically of course