Over the last few weeks, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has put the nation on high alert, as concerns rise that the virus will significantly impact the wellbeing of people across the country, and the entire world. While Americans are doing their part by staying home to help slow the spread, there are still a lot of questions and concerns around what to do if the virus is contracted. To help you through this time, we put together a health insurance guide during COVID-19.
If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, or have been exposed to the virus by someone who has a confirmed case, we’ve broken down what you need to know about how your insurance works, what to do if you’re uninsured, and what to do if you’re feeling sick.
Getting tested if insured:
The Trump administration declared that testing for COVID-19 has been designated as an Essential Health Benefit (EHB). This means that testing must be covered by all ACA-compliant plans. If you are enrolled in a Marketplace plan or even if you have Medicare, your insurance company will cover testing. In most cases, those with Medicaid are covered as well. America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) is continuously updating a list of what each health insurance provider is promising to do for their members during this time.
Additionally, many insurers have agreed to waive telehealth costs or co-pays. This will allow you to speak with a doctor from your home through web-based conferencing, allowing them to social distance.
Coverage is expanding for uninsured individuals:
More coronavirus care will be covered in across the nation, with eleven states now allowing individuals to sign up for coverage under the ACA. Federal officials are also considering similar action for state markets they operate. The states that made the move to open enrollment are California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington, who run their own exchanges.
The new enrollment periods will allow people who recently lost their jobs to get new coverage. This period also provides an opportunity for those who did not buy insurance for the year to reconsider that decision.
If your income has dipped low enough to qualify for Medicaid, the program accepts applications all year long – you don’t need a qualifying event. In addition, CMS has approved 12 additional state Medicaid waivers to give states flexibility to address COVID-19.
Getting tested if uninsured:
There are 2 million people who live in states that did not expand Medicaid under the ACA that fall into a coverage gap. However, there is a new federal law that makes novel coronavirus testing free for those who do not have insurance. Treatment is not included, but many hospitals have charity care programs for low-income patients who cannot afford the full price for care.
Even if you do not have insurance, health care professions are urging people to seek appropriate care if you are sick. Many local health departments have hotlines that can direct you to the right place. In addition, the CDC has a “Coronavirus Self-Checker” tool on their website that anyone can access.
What to do if you have symptoms:
Per CDC guidelines, monitor your symptoms and seek medical attention if you are having trouble breathing. Call your doctor or emergency room before going in person and tell them your symptoms. They will be able to instruct you from there.
Call 911 if you experience more serious symptoms, such as persistent pain or pressure in the chest, or bluish lips or face.
In general, ensure that you are staying in your home if you are feeling sick and separate yourself from other people that you live with. Be sure to cover all coughs and sneezes and wash your hands (for at least 20 seconds) often. Don’t share any personal household items, and clean all “high-touch” surfaces daily.
Even if you are not experiencing any symptoms, practice social distancing, wash your hands regularly, and do not touch your face.
During this time of uncertainty, you can count on W3LL to be there for you. Don’t hesitate to contact us to talk about your insurance options.