(BPT) - During these difficult times, millions of Americans have been furloughed, laid off, or may yet lose employment due to the pandemic. And because insurance is tied to employment for a vast majority of workers, this can mean facing the loss of insurance coverage as well as your income.
What can you do if you've already been impacted, or if you are likely to be soon?
Here are some options available if you are coping with this difficult situation.
Plan ahead if possible.
If a layoff may be in your future, it’s a good time to prepare. In today’s environment, it is possible that in some states insurers may allow you to obtain a larger-than-usual supply of prescription medications, for example.
Also, if your health care provider recommends it, this could be a good time to take care of vital health care screenings. Consult your provider about which screenings are essential for you, and proper safeguards to take during doctor visits.
Ask about COBRA.
Talk to your employer about the possibility of getting COBRA to continue coverage. With COBRA, you may be able to keep your current job-based plan for a limited time (usually 18 months). This may even be the case if your hours are simply reduced rather than being let go entirely. Make sure to ask questions about the full cost of this coverage, as it can be expensive to maintain.
Talk to your spouse.
Discuss being added to your partner's health insurance coverage if that's possible. Insurers may allow changes outside the open enrollment period for circumstances such as these.
Check the Health Insurance Marketplace.
Visit healthcare.gov to see if you are eligible for enrolling in a state or federally subsidized health plan, or if you qualify for Medicaid. Coverage options vary greatly, depending on where you live and your individual circumstances.
Losing your coverage due to job loss may mean you can benefit from a “special enrollment period” rather than waiting for the normal open enrollment period that occurs each year. Be prepared to provide detailed financial information as part of the lengthy application process for subsidized health insurance.
Opt for individual vision and dental insurance.
If you need to be seen for your annual eye exam, to get new glasses, or to maintain your contact lens supply, you may worry about not having these crucial vision services covered when you lose benefits or have them reduced.
Fortunately, there are convenient, low-cost options available for both vision and dental insurance. Check out VSPdirect.com for information about their vision plans, which start as low as $13 per month. VSP has the largest network of independent doctors in the U.S. VSP can also help you find low-cost options for your dental coverage through our partnership with Guardian.
With VSP, there are no enrollment restrictions, so you can purchase a plan at any time, without waiting, no matter what your circumstances. VSP is also a great option for retirees and people who are self-employed. You can start using your vision plan benefits within five business days from enrolling in an annual plan and making your payment.
New to getting individual coverage? Check out the VSP vision plan wizard to guide you to the right coverage for your specific circumstances.