The COVID-19 Pandemic has brought great instability to the job market and, as a result, a large number of folks have lost their insurance due to losing their jobs.
Today, February 15th, the Healthcare Marketplace, healthcare.gov, will reopen for a three-month special enrollment period. This means that if you do not have insurance OR want to make changes to your coverage, you may be eligible to purchase a plan through healthcare.gov.
Why is this happening now?
“The Pandemic has created exceptional circumstances for consumers in accessing health insurance” (Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services). Currently, 36 states utilize the federal healthcare marketplace available through healthcare.gov. The fourteen states who run their own marketplaces are also being encouraged to open their marketplaces for the same special enrollment period.
When can I enroll?
This enrollment period will run from February 15th-May 15th 2021. Your coverage begins depending on when you enroll and pay for your coverage. For example, if you were to purchase a plan today, most likely your coverage would begin March 1st. Check with your individual enrollment plans for the date when your plan will become active.
How do I enroll?
A good place to start, regardless of where you live, is www.healthcare.gov. If your state runs their own marketplace, you will be directed to their specific website from healthcare.gov.
Can I get help?
Yes, another part of re-opening the Marketplace today was also providing extended navigation and enrollment assistance. You can find local help here.
Important Things to Remember If You Have Cancer
- If you like your oncologist and your treatment center, be sure they are in-network with any new plan you are considering. You can ask your provider for a list of plans they contract with.
- Compare plans carefully. Just because the “front-end” cost, the premium, is low, doesn’t mean your out of pocket expenses will also be low. Be sure to check the deductible and the annual out-of-pocket maximum for EACH plan.
- If you are taking ORAL cancer medications, check the pharmacy formulary for your new plan to be sure your medications are on it. You may also have to switch pharmacy providers with a new plan.
- Learn more about how ACA plans work here.
- The next OPEN ENROLLMENT period for the healthcare marketplace will be in the late fall–when you will be able to get coverage or make changes for 2022.
In a year where we have been coping with so much loss, uncertainty and chaos, we need to be sure we have access to quality healthcare and health insurance coverage. Re-opening the marketplace is a great start to provide relief to folks who are suffering and to make sure we all have access to care.
Christina is a clinical oncology social worker and the psychosocial content editor at OncoLink. Christina blogs about resources available to the cancer community, as well as general information about coping with cancer practically, emotionally, and spiritually. Christina is also an instructor at the Penn School of Social Policy and Practice. In her spare time, she loves to knit and volunteer with her therapy dogs, Linus and Huckleberry. She also loves to travel, cook and is an avid Philly sports fan.