LANSING — COVID-19’s blurred the concept of “normal” statewide, infiltrating the homes and businesses of tens of thousands of Michiganders.
The respiratory disease also affected Michigan’s workforce.
Those fired, laid off or furloughed due to the coronavirus are now worried about health insurance, experts say. That’s where Farm Bureau Health Services can help.
Michigan Farm News spoke to Stacy Garland, an individual health specialist for Farm Bureau Health Services, about the issue and what insureds can expect.
So what options are available to someone who has lost employer-sponsored health insurance?
Garland: If you’ve lost your health insurance because you’ve been furloughed or lost your job, you may have several different options available.
If you worked for a large employer who provided you with a group health insurance plan, you may be eligible for COBRA. COBRA coverage would give you all the same health insurance benefits you currently have, but you would have to pay the full premium cost. This is probably your most expensive option and may not be affordable.
What if I’m not eligible for or can’t afford COBRA?
Garland: If you lost employer-sponsored health insurance, you may be eligible for a special enrollment period to purchase individual health insurance. Generally, you can only purchase individual health insurance during the open enrollment period in the fall. However, certain life events — like losing employer-sponsored health insurance — qualify you for a special enrollment period. Generally, you have up to 60 days after your loss of coverage to enroll in an individual health insurance plan on or off the federal health insurance Marketplace.
If you enroll in coverage on the Marketplace, you may qualify for premium tax credits (to lower your monthly health insurance premiums) and cost-sharing subsides (to lower your deductibles and copays) based on your income. You may also qualify for Medicaid.
What if I only need health insurance for a short period of time?
Garland: Another option is short-term health insurance. Short-term health insurance plans are generally more catastrophic in nature. By that I mean they won’t cover routine or preventive care, maternity care, preexisting health conditions, prescription drugs, and the like. Short term plans are also medically underwritten, which means based on your answers to some health questions, you’ll either be accepted or rejected for coverage. You can purchase up to six months of short-term health insurance for every 365 days. So if you just need health insurance coverage for a couple of months in the event you might get ill, this could be an inexpensive option for you.
So how does someone decide which option is best?
Garland: That’s where Farm Bureau Health Services can help. We have individual health insurance specialists on staff who can go through your options with you, help you determine which plan will best suit your needs and your budget, and get you enrolled right over the phone. We’re available 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Simply give us a call at 888-294-4335, and we are more than happy to help in whatever way we can.