This piece offers tips for current insurance members and prospects shopping for health insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Shopping for health insurance during COVID-19
So much has changed in our lives since the COVID-19 pandemic began. More than ever, it’s important to have access to the best care. If you, like many others, are currently shopping for health insurance, you might be wondering what to look for.
Don Truong, director of sales at Sharp Health Plan, and Cicely Rucker, account manager for Covered California at Sharp Health Plan, share their top four tips to help make shopping for insurance easier, so you can get the care that you and your loved ones need.
Consider the quality of care and coverage
Deciding what to do if you lose health insurance during the pandemic can feel daunting. But whether you need to get a COVID-19 test or go in for your annual wellness exam, the quality of care your health insurance plan provides is key.
Covered California is the state’s health insurance marketplace that helps Californians find and compare brand-name health insurance plans, including Sharp Health Plan. Covered California follows guidance from the Department of Managed Health Care and the California Department of Insurance.
Consider the coverage you might need
“The pandemic has hit home for many people, whether through lost income, taking time off work to care for a loved one, or even contracting COVID-19 themselves,” says Truong.
At the time of writing this article, COVID-19 testing is free for those who have COVID-19 symptoms or who think they were exposed.
Truong adds, “I think a lot of people may have been passively looking at their health benefits, and now they’re going to be asking, ‘If I get sick, what will that mean for me and my family?’”
Find out if you’re eligible for financial assistance and special enrollment
“Experiencing income changes can make you eligible for premium assistance through Covered California,” says Rucker.
“So even if you haven’t been eligible for financial assistance in the past, you should check again, especially if your income has changed,” advises Truong.
If you have experienced income or job loss due to COVID-19, Covered California is offering a special enrollment period until the end of the year. Special enrollment periods allow you to get health coverage outside of open enrollment dates due to a qualifying life event, which can happen to you or your entire family.
Additionally, if you were laid off from a job that provided your health insurance within the past 60 days, or if you anticipate losing your coverage in the next 60 days, you may qualify for a special enrollment period.
Don’t wait to get covered
Gaps in your health insurance coverage could result in a hefty penalty. According to Covered California, if you go without coverage for an entire year in California, you may need to pay $750 per adult and $375 per dependent child under age 18 when you file your 2020 state income tax return.
Applying for coverage as soon as you’re able may help you to avoid a gap in coverage.
While you shop for health insurance, keep these tips in mind. Your health priorities should come first when you’re deciding which plan will fit your needs.
Sharp HealthCare accepts almost all health insurance plans, including Sharp Health Plan. Sign up online to attend a free, 15-minute health insurance enrollment lab, or call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277) to register. If you’re ready to purchase individual insurance, Sharp Health Plan’s enrollment team is available to help you.