Coronavirus crisis: Tips if you lose your health insurance

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As the coronavirus crisis leaves many Americans without jobs, many people may find themselves without health care coverage at a particularly frightening time.

As previously reported by FOX Business, initial jobless claims recently hit the highest level in recorded history – at nearly 3.3 million. There are predictions that as many as 14 million people could find themselves without a job by summer.

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That could prove challenging since a majority of Americans obtain health insurance through their workplace.

According to data form the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 55 percent of people had employer-based health care coverage in 2018. Another 8.5 percent of people had no health insurance at all during the timeframe.

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There are options, however, if you find yourself without coverage.

In addition to seeing if you qualify for coverage under a family member's plan, you can:

Buy a marketplace plan

Losing your job – even if you are fired – qualifies you for a special enrollment period that allows you to obtain coverage outside of the normal open enrollment window.

You do, however, need to apply within 60 days of losing insurance coverage.

If you lose coverage through the employer of a family member, you can also qualify for this option.

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Apply for Medicaid

Medicaid is a government-sponsored program that offers coverage to low-income individuals, as well as people with disabilities.

Criteria varies by state but, generally, in order to qualify you need to be earning an income within 138 percent of the federal poverty level ($29,974 for a family of three). Eligibility, however, is less strict in states that have chosen to expand the program.

Slightly more than a dozen states have not expanded Medicaid. In those states, the median eligibility level for parents is just 41 percent of the federal poverty level ($8,905 for a family of three), according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Keep your coverage temporarily

A federal law, known as COBRA, may allow you to continue on your insurance even after employment ends.

This option may require you to pay the entire premium for coverage up to 102 percent of the cost to the plan.

Group health plans sponsored by employers with 20 employees or more often offer this continuation coverage for as many as 18 months.

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