In these last few months, all of our lives have been affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. In addition to the risks the virus poses to your overall health, the impact of the pandemic on the economy has also increased the risk of losing your job. If this has happened to you, you are not alone. Information from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows the unemployment rate among people ages 65 and older quadrupled between March and April 2020 – from 3.7% to 15.6%. It can be an emotional time, but we’re here to make sure you make informed decisions about your healthcare coverage.
Below are a few scenarios along with some brief information about what you can do.
If you are under 65 and you’ve lost your job…
… you are not eligible for Medicare until you are 65 or if you’ve had Social Security disability for at least 24 months. But if you are turning 65 soon (within the next year), now is a good time to start looking at your Medicare options so you are prepared.
There are still options for you. First, find out from your former employer when your group coverage will end. You may be able to receive COBRA coverage, which continues your health insurance plan through your employer for 18 months at a (likely) higher cost to you. Your former HR department should be able to provide you with more details.
If you are 65 and over and you’ve lost your job…
… you can enroll in Medicare. When you turned 65, you likely signed up for Medicare Part A (Hospital coverage), but you probably didn’t sign up for Medicare Part B (Medical coverage) because you were still working. Now, you have up to eight months after losing your job and health insurance coverage to add Medicare Part B without a penalty. You can apply online or mail the completed CMS 40B, Application for Enrollment in Medicare – Part B (Medical Insurance) and CMS L564, Request for Employment Information to your local Social Security office.
Are you able to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan?
Yes. The Centers for Medicare and Medicare Services (CMS) allows you to make changes to your coverage for certain life events, such as losing other insurance coverage. First, you must enroll in Medicare Part A and Part B. You have two full months, known as a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) after losing coverage, to join a Medicare Advantage Plan with drug coverage or a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
Of course, at Aspire Health Plan, we understand this is an unsettling time and there is a lot of information to digest. If you have any questions, we are here to help. Give us a call at (855) 570-1600 (TTY users call 711).