Health Insurance

Health Insurance and Coronavirus: An FAQ

Health Insurance and Coronavirus: An FAQ

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More information will be added and updated since this is a developing story.

The coronavirus pandemic has spread throughout the U.S. and is currently impacting our economy, as well as our healthcare system, negatively. With all of this uncertainty, Congress has been able to pass the CARES Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, to provide needed relief and clarity in regard to our financial institutions and health insurance.

Question: Will my health insurance cover coronavirus care?

Answer: Under the CARES Act, a group health plan and any health insurer offering group or individual coverage will provide coverage and will not impose any cost sharing — deductibles, copayments or coinsurance — requirements for items and services needed to combat COVID-19.

In addition, the CARES Act specifies that any further preventative services for coronavirus are required to be offered and covered by providers of group or individual health insurance policies. This can include items, antibody tests, services and immunizations that are intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Question: Is the coronavirus vaccine covered by my health insurance?

Answer: For the duration of the current public health emergency, the COVID-19 vaccine has no costs regardless of your insurance carrier or if you have coverage at all. Vaccine providers and distributors may charge an administration fee for delivering the shot, but this cost can be reimbursed by your insurance provider or the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund. This initiative was created to remove financial barriers that may prevent people from obtaining the vaccine. However, the vaccination costs could change post-pandemic.

Question: If I need health insurance, where can I purchase coverage?

Answer: If you are currently uninsured, there are still opportunities to enroll in a health insurance plan. For the 2021 plan year, you can apply for marketplace coverage through up until August 15th. The deadline has primarily been extended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, if you live in a state that operates their own health insurance marketplace you may have different enrollment periods available. Below we have outlined those state-based-exchange dates:

CaliforniaMay 15th, 2021
ColoradoMay 15th, 2021
ConnecticutApril 15th, 2021
IdahoMarch 31st, 2021
MarylandMay 15th, 2021
MassachusettsMarch 23rd, 2021
NevadaNo extension
New YorkMay 15th, 2021
Rhode IslandNo extension
VermontMay 14th, 2021
WashingtonMay 15th, 2021

Those who missed the open enrollment period can make changes to their coverage if they qualify for a life event change, including marriage, job loss or becoming a U.S. citizen.

Question: What can I do if I am laid off from my job?

Answer: If you were laid off from your job, then we suggest reaching out to your previous employer to see if they are continuing your health insurance benefits. Many employers, such as Macy's and Gap, have let employees go but continue to support them through job-based health plans.

If your employer is not offering benefits anymore, then you may no longer have health insurance coverage. In this case, you will gain access to a special enrollment period (SEP) during which you would be able to purchase an individual health insurance plan. Your state marketplace can be found through the website. Here you can see if you qualify for the enrollment period and then select the plan that you wish to purchase.

If you fall behind on your health insurance payments and find yourself unable to pay your premium, your policy will likely be cancelled. But before insurers decide to end your plan, they usually provide a 90-day grace period for you to pay any outstanding bills.

What is the right type of health insurance to purchase?

Answer: Finding health insurance that offers full coverage is the best health insurance policy that you can purchase. This is insurance that provides coverage for the 10 essential health benefits as defined by the Affordable Care Act, which include:

  • Outpatient services
  • Emergency services
  • Hospitalization
  • Maternity and newborn care
  • Mental health and substance abuse care
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitative services
  • Laboratory services
  • Preventative and wellness services
  • Pediatric services

There are some health insurance policies, such as short-term health insurance, which may not provide coverage for some of these areas. However, they often have a significantly cheaper monthly premium compared to an individual health plan. Therefore, if you are considering a short-term health policy, you should carefully review the policy details and confirm exactly what will and will not be covered.

There are cheaper plans in terms of monthly premiums, such as Catastrophic or Bronze coverage. These plans typically have larger deductibles, making them more expensive if you use your health insurance often.

Marketplace health insurance plans are broken into four metal tiers — Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum — based on how you share costs with the plan. Silver health insurance plans are good policies to consider since they have modest premiums, as well as average deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums.

Below we have provided a list of the cheapest health insurance policies in each state for the Silver metal tier.

Cheapest Silver plan
Monthly cost for a 40-year-old
AlabamaBlue Cross Select Silver$509
AlaskaPremera Blue Cross Preferred Silver 3000 HSA$658
ArizonaBlue AdvanceHealth Silver - PimaFocus Network$330
ArkansasAmbetter Balanced Care 12 (2021)$387
CaliforniaSilver 70 CommunityCare HMO$325
ColoradoKP CO Silver 2500/25$278
ConnecticutChoice Silver Standard POS$479
DelawareHealth Savings Embedded Blue EPO Silver 3450 HSA$522
FloridaOscar Silver Saver$408
GeorgiaCareSource Marketplace Low Premium Silver$416
HawaiiKP HI Silver 4000/45$467
IdahoCPN North Central Silver 6000$467
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Question: Who can I contact if I need to be tested for COVID-19?

Answer: If you think you need to be tested for COVID-19, you should begin by reaching out to your doctor. If you currently do not have a primary care physician (PCP), we suggest reaching out to your health insurance company to get more information.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend going immediately to the emergency room, hospital or doctor's office, since you may spread the disease further.

Instead, listen to the instructions of your health care provider, who will confirm if your symptoms warrant being tested, and then tell you to visit a testing center in your state. Below is a list of testing centers in each U.S. state.

Note that these are only some of the many test facilities in your state. For complete lists and additional information regarding testing, we recommend visiting your state's government health website. You can also visit the CDC website, where you can receive testing guidance.

Testing center locations
  • The University of Alabama at Birmingham Testing Center
  • Alabama Department of Public Health
  • Assurance Scientific Labs
  • Ross Bridge Medical Center
  • Anchorage Testing Center
  • Banner Health (Phoenix and Tucson)
  • Sonora Quest Laboratories
  • Washington Regional Center
  • University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences HealthNow
  • Mercy Drive Thru Testing Center in Rogers
  • San Francisco County Lab
  • Los Angeles County Lab
  • Sacramento County Lab
  • Shasta County Lab
  • San Diego County Lab
  • Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Lab
  • Denver Hospitals
  • Bridgeport Hospital
  • Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington
  • Hartford Hospital
  • Yale-New Haven Hospital
  • Greenwich Hospital
  • Saint Francis Healthcare
  • Beebe Healthcare
  • ChristianaCare: Newark and Wilmington
  • Primary Healthcare Providers
  • Community Health of South Florida Doris Ison Health Center
  • Larkin Community Hospital
  • Broward Health
  • Northwood Centre
  • The Georgia Department of Public Health
  • MercyMed of Columbus Drive-Thru Testing Center
  • Valdosta Drive-Thru Testing Center
  • Windward Urgent Care
  • Queen’s Medical Center (Punchbowl and West Oahu)
  • ‍Molokai General Hospital
  • Hawaii Pacific Health facilities
  • Queen’s North Hawaii Community Hospital
  • Saint Alphonsus Health System Meridian Drive-Thru Testing Center
  • St. Luke’s Treasure Valley Drive-Thru Testing Center
  • Saltzer Health Nampa
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Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.