Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of people, disproportionately Latinos, have lost jobs. As unemployment hit record numbers, many Latino households were unable to pay bills, and as a consequence of not having jobs, many have also lost insurance. In order to ensure expanded insurance coverage, President Joe Biden signed an executive order creating an extra Affordable Care Act enrollment period for those who missed signing up last year. That period begins Feb. 15 and runs through May 15.
“It’s a chance for a do-over,” said Cynthia Cox, director of the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Program on the A.C.A. While many low-income people were able to sign up last year through Medicaid, some consumers are still not covered.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, around 9 million people are eligible for free or reduced-cost monthly premiums through the Marketplace. The enrollment period will be especially important for those who previously had job-based insurance but lost it during the pandemic, as they may not be aware they are most likely eligible for coverage.
1. Who is eligible for the extended enrollment period?
If you have lost health coverage through an employer or the employer of a family member in the past 60 days, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. This also goes for those who believe they will lose health coverage in the next 60 days because they will no longer be a dependent. There are also many who lost health coverage through employers since January 2020 and missed the previous enrollment period. If this is the case for you, you may also be eligible for the Special Enrollment Period.
2. How can I sign up?
To sign up, go to HealthCare.gov to shop at the federal insurance Marketplace.
3. Where can I get help choosing a health plan?
Federal guidance recommends people seeking healthcare visit HealthCare.gov and click on “find local help” to receive authorized guides on coverage. Alternatively, shoppers can call 800-318-2596 to speak with trained helpers.
4. Which states does this serve?
The Affordable Care Act Marketplace serves three dozen states. In 14 states, plus the District of Columbia, people can enroll through their own state’s insurance marketplace. Those states are: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. No matter which state you live in, you’ll be directed to the appropriate marketplace at HealthCare.gov.
5. Why is this especially important for Latinos?
Latinos disproportionately lost jobs and sources of income during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, Latinos have a higher chance of having underlying conditions that make them more susceptible to severe illness from COVID-19.