The 6-month federal medical insurance subsidy for the unemployed ends

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The federal government’s subsidized health insurance coverage for the unemployed during the coronavirus pandemic, made possible by the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA), ends this month.

Hence, if you’ve taken advantage of this option, health advocates say that now is the time to start thinking about other insurance options in October.

The $ 1.9 trillion stimulus package passed in March, known as the American Rescue Plan, included a provision that offered many unemployed workers six months of free health coverage through COBRA for six months from April 1.

COBRA allows people who leave a company to stay on their job insurance, but it is usually prohibitively expensive as a person has to pay their own customary portion of their monthly premium as well as what their previous employer paid.

The typical 2020 annual premium for job-related protection was $ 7,470 for individuals and $ 21,342 for families, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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According to experts, the demand for the six-month grant was enormous. After all, more than 16 million people lost their employer-funded health insurance during the pandemic, one estimate found.

Anyone who has previously relied on insurance coverage should get information about the end of the funding period from their previous employer or insurer. In this notice, you can see what your monthly bill will be without the help of the government.

If you find the new premium prohibitive, which may be the case for some, you are eligible for a special 60-day registration period on the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, said Sabrina Corlette, co-director of the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University. (To avoid a coverage gap, experts recommend that you report your impending loss of COBRA coverage as soon as possible.)

If at any point in 2021 you’ve been on unemployment benefits for a week or more, you can qualify for a $ 0 monthly premium plan, Corlette said, thanks to tax credits approved under the American Rescue Plan.

If your income is low enough, you can qualify for Medicaid.

“It makes sense to anyone who is entitled, given how generous the coverage is,” Corlette said.

If you’ve been re-hired at a new company, you can also speak to your HR department about employer-funded health insurance.

However, you may have to wait for this option.

“Maybe you missed your window of opportunity to enroll,” Corlette said. “The special federal registration period is only available for Marketplace plans.”

You can potentially stay on COBRA if you can afford the premiums. Note, however, that this option is usually limited to 18 months, said Laurel Lucia, director of health programs at the University of California Berkeley’s Center for Laboratory for Research and Education.

The National Patient Advocate Foundation has created a guide that compares different health insurances. You can also contact a local health care “navigator”.

In the meantime, health experts recommend making appointments with your GPs for required or desired treatments now before starting a new plan next month. That’s because your current providers may no longer be covered.

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