COLUMBUS — Last week the U.S. unemployment rate hit a record high of 14.7 percent, a high that has not been seen since World War II.
For many of these Americans, however, losing a job doesn’t just create worry about providing for their families. It also raises concerns about protecting their health during a pandemic. About half of all Americans get their health insurance through their employer, so for many people, being newly unemployed brings with it uncertainty about how to navigate their health coverage options. It’s important for Ohioans who have lost their jobs to know that the Affordable Care Act includes a provision that gives people 60 days to enroll in health care after a qualifying life event, such as job loss. There are a variety of affordable health coverage options, including Medicaid and the federal Health Insurance Marketplace through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Each program has unique characteristics and requirements as outlined below.
Medicaid offers free or low-cost health insurance coverage for lower income residents and the unemployed:
- In Ohio, Medicaid coverage includes: individuals with low-income, pregnant women, infants, and children; older adults; individuals with disabilities.
- Residents may qualify if their current income is up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $1,415 per month for an individual and $2,904 per month for a family of four.
- Note: CARES Act supplementary unemployment insurance benefits, which can increase unemployment benefits by $600 per week, do not impact eligibility for Medicaid programs. More information on income qualifications can be found at: https://medicaid.ohio.gov/FOR-OHIOANS/Who-Qualifies
- Enrollment is offered year-round, and healthcare services provided up to three months prior to enrollment can be covered retroactively.
- To enroll in Medicaid in Ohio, visit https://benefits.ohio.gov/or call (800) 324-8680.
The Health Insurance Marketplace is for anyone who doesn’t receive employer-provided coverage, and it allows people to choose from multiple health insurance plans to find the right coverage:
- Enrollment is available during a special enrollment period (SEP). Once a person experiences a qualifying life event such as job loss, they have 60 days to enroll.
- Financial assistance is available for Marketplace coverage if a person’s expected 2020 income will be 100 percent-400 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $12,490-$49,960 for an individual and $25,750-$103,000 for a family of four.
- To be eligible for coverage, a person must live in the United States, be a U.S. citizen or national, and can’t be incarcerated. Healthcare.gov has more details on eligibility.
For more information, visit Healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY: 1-855-889-4325).