Understanding your health insurance options can be difficult. If your health coverage has been impacted by COVID-19, you may qualify for special enrollment.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) has disrupted our economy, leading many people to lose their jobs – and their health insurance coverage. While some may be familiar with their options for getting new coverage, others may have questions about the process.
If you have lost your health insurance because of the COVID-19 pandemic, UPMC Health Plan is here to help. Call 1-877-563-0292 (TTY: 711) to chat with a specialist who can walk you through all of your options for coverage.
Below are some questions you should consider before beginning the purchasing process.
Have you really lost your coverage?
Before investigating new insurance options, talk to your employer about your job status. If you have been furloughed—meaning you’ve been put on an unpaid leave of absence—you may still have health benefits through your employer.
If you’re certain that you have lost your coverage, please have the following things accessible when exploring your options:
- Proof of loss of coverage
- Income and demographic information
- Social Security number
Do you qualify for Medical Assistance?
Depending on your situation, you may qualify for Medical Assistance (Medicaid). This provides coverage for both physical and mental health care, as well as substance use disorder services.
The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services determines eligibility for Medicaid and what benefits you and your family (if applicable) would receive.
- Call PA Enrollment Services at 1-800-440-3989. TTY users should call 1-800-618-4225.
- Visit the PA Enrollment Services website.
You can also contact your County Assistance Office to apply for Medicaid:
- Contact your local county assistance office.
- Download an application to send to your County Assistance Office.
How can you get health care coverage for your child?
The Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, provides comprehensive health insurance for uninsured children and teens up to age 19. Enrollment is available year-round. Depending on your family’s income, your child may be enrolled in free, low-cost, or full-cost CHIP. Most eligible families can receive CHIP coverage at no cost.
This program is not available to children and teens who are eligible for Medical Assistance. Learn more about CHIP here or call 1-800 978-8762.
Are you eligible to purchase insurance on the Federally Facilitated Marketplace?
If you have lost your employer-sponsored health insurance coverage, you may be eligible for a special enrollment period through the Health Insurance Marketplace. For this option, it is necessary to enroll within 60 days of losing your coverage.
The Marketplace allows individuals and families to purchase comprehensive coverage that includes essential health benefits and preventive services. Depending on your household income, you could qualify for a government tax credit to help pay for health insurance coverage.
If you did not have health insurance through your employer before your employment status changed, you may not qualify for a special enrollment period. But other options may be available to you.
Can you enroll in Medicare?
In certain circumstances, you may be eligible for Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan This might be an option if you have recently lost your employer-sponsored health coverage and you either had your 65th birthday three months ago or will have it within the next three months.
Do you want to keep the coverage you had through your employer?
COBRA, also known as group health continuation coverage, allows employees who are leaving a job to continue their employer’s health insurance coverage by paying the full premium. That means you would have to pay both your monthly premium and the portion that your former employer covered. This option applies to most employers with more than 20 employees.
If you recently lost your job, you were probably offered this option.