Losing Health Coverage Due to Job Loss? Why You Must Apply for Medicaid to Secure A Special Enrollment Period

Job LossAs if losing your job isn’t bad enough, losing your health insurance coverage could be just as devastating. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has set strict guidelines for when you can sign up for a health plan and what qualifies a person for a special enrollment period, but there are processes that have to be followed to ensure you don’t miss out on these specific timeframes.

Understanding Special Enrollment Periods Following a Job Loss

I know many of you may frown on this decision, but it’s critical to secure your special enrollment period rights under the ACA – and here’s why. I have explained in previous blogs that if you lose your health coverage involuntarily, such as losing a job, you qualify for a special enrollment period to sign up for a plan through Connect for Health Colorado.

But here’s the kicker – getting a new job does not qualify you for a special enrollment period. So if you don’t sign up for a health plan before your 60-day special enrollment period ends, you’ll have to wait to sign up for a plan through your new employer (if coverage is offered) or during the next open enrollment period. But there’s one way around this – and that’s where signing up for Medicaid comes into play.

How to Sign up for Medicaid to Preserve Special Enrollment Period Rights

If you lose your job and have little or no income, you wouldn’t qualify for a premium subsidy to purchase a health plan but you would qualify for Medicaid – at least until you find a new job. You’ll want to apply as soon as you possibly can. Follow the steps on our “How to Apply” web page for detailed instructions on how to apply for Medicaid. Once you find new employment, you can sign up for health coverage if it’s offered as part of your benefits’ package and drop your Medicaid coverage.

If your new employer doesn’t offer health coverage, simply report your new income to Connect for Health Colorado. Your new income will likely cause you to lose your Medicaid coverage but will inturn qualify you for a 60-day special enrollment period to enroll in a health plan through Connect for Health Colorado. If your income is less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, you’ll qualify for premium assistance to help lower your monthly premiums.

By choosing not to apply for Medicaid after a job loss, you lose your rights to this additional 60-day special enrollment period. And keep in mind – you cannot backdate or apply retroactively for Medicaid. The application is real-time and based on your current income, so there’s no way to get this 60-day special enrollment period back if you don’t apply for Medicaid when you don’t have an income.

Where to Get Help With Your Insurance Options Should You Suffer a Job Loss

My best advice, should you lose your job due to unfortunate circumstances, is to seek the help of a ColoHealth Personal Advisor. Our advisors have spent years studying the new health care laws and can review your personal situation to help you get covered with little or no lapse in coverage. Remember – enrollment periods are limited, so take action as soon as you know you may be losing your health coverage.

Have you suffered a job loss and have any questions about coverage? Do you have any questions about special enrollment periods?

  Date posted: Tuesday, August 19th, 2014
Category: Health Care Reform, Health Insurance

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