Dealing with losing health insurance during COVID-19

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Call it collateral damage of the pandemic: people losing their jobs and their health insurance.

It’s a crisis tens of millions of Americans face. As many as 35 million Americans face losing their health insurance in the coming weeks. It’s a grim situation but there are options for people in this predicament.

Losing your health insurance could not come at a worse time. You need it the most as COVID-19 holds a grip on the U.S. But it is possible to maintain your employer-sponsored health insurance through a federal program called COBRA.

“It allows laid off workers to continue on the same health insurance plan for up to 18 months,” Internal Medicine Physician Dr. Holly Phillips said.

While you can keep your existing doctors and maintain your continuity of care, Dr. Phillips says COBRA has its downside.

“COBRA can be very expensive whereas your employer would’ve shared the premium with you when you were employed with them, under COBRA you might have to cover the entire thing yourself,” Dr. Phillips said.

Less expensive options to shore-up your insurance include the Affordable Care Act marketplace.

“That insurance option allows you to shop for different plans that are specific to your needs and your level of income. And importantly, Obamacare can offer subsidies that cap your premiums if your income is low enough,” Dr. Phillips said.

Medicaid and CHIP which stands for Children’s Health Insurance Program are both low or no-cost options if you qualify.

“In my opinion, one of the most important things that the CARES Act does is extend access to what we call telemedicine. That’s where you can talk to your doctor over the internet, over the telephone, and have it reimbursed,” Dr. Phillips said.

When it comes to prescriptions, Dr. Phillips recommends choosing generics which she says are just as effective and less expensive.

For more information, click here, here, and here.

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