What to Do if Your Insurance Benefits Are Impacted by Coronavirus

The COVID-19 pandemic is quickly changing the way of life for people across the world, including here in the United States. Governments across the country are issuing shelter-in-place orders, asking non-essential businesses to close or work remotely, and quickly ramping up health precautions for performing essential activities.

For many Californians, these changes mean loss of employment and insurance benefits as companies lay off workers to keep up with COVID-19’s economic impact. If you lose your insurance benefits during this uncertain time, you still have options to seek the health care you need. Speak to a Bakersfield Insurance Bad Faith Lawyer today.

Health Insurance Options for Unemployed Californians

During this global pandemic, it is more important now than ever to have health insurance coverage. If your insurance was a benefit at your former job and you lost your position due to COVID-19, you have options for coverage available to you.

  • If your company employs 20 people or more, you may be eligible to extend your insurance coverage under a federal rule known as COBRA. You have 60 days from your last day of work to sign up for COBRA, but this option can be quite expensive since you will have to pay the full premium by yourself.
  • You can also sign up for health insurance exchange under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Losing your insurance benefits due to a lay-off is a qualifying event under ACA, allowing you to search for a new plan through the federal website or Covered California.
  • You may also qualify for Medicaid, a joint state and federal program that provides coverage to low-income Americans. Only certain individuals can receive this low or no-cost insurance option, and you can review the eligibility requirements on the Medicaid Program website. California’s Medicaid program is Medi-Cal.

If you did not have insurance from your employer and you remain uninsured during COVID-19, you still have options available to you. You can still apply for benefits under ACA, and California’s Medi-Cal program may also be available to you.

Options for COVID-19 Treatment in California

It is more important now than ever that healthcare professionals identify, treat, and quarantine individuals who have COVID-19. However, financial barriers may preclude many people from seeking this necessary assistance. Although health coverage in the United States can be expensive, many insurance companies are offering low-cost testing and treatment for COVID-19.

  • Kaiser Permanente is waiving members’ out-of-pocket costs for inpatient and outpatient procedures related to COVID-19.
  • Blue Shield of California is waiving cost-sharing and approvals for COVID-19 for its commercial and Medi-Cal plans.
  • Anthem will waive the out-of-pocket costs for coronavirus testing, as well as prior authorization to receive a test.

You can find a complete list of health insurance companies and their response to COVID-19 on the America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) website.

Applying for Unemployment Benefits in California

If you are a California employee impacted by COVID-19 and you have lost your source of income, you are eligible for certain state and federal benefits. Under the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, you may receive the following.

  • Unemployment benefits from the state of California for up to 39 weeks
  • An additional $600 in federal benefits on top of what you would normally receive from the state, for a maximum of four months

You will need to submit an unemployment claim to California’s Employment Development Department (EDD) to claim these benefits.

If you lost your insurance benefits due to COVID-19 and you need health care immediately, the above solutions can help. If you need additional assistance filing a claim with an insurance company or the company denies your benefits, contact an attorney with experience handling bad faith insurance claims and other insurance disputes. Your attorney will be able to negotiate with the company on your behalf and pursue further action if necessary.