Lost insurance in COVID-19 crisis? Act quickly to get ACA coverage. Already uninsured? In 38 states, including ours, it’s complicated.

April 11, 2020

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has joined with governors from 11 other states on the federally facilitated exchange to urge the federal government to reopen the Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplace in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the 38 states that use the federally-facilitated marketplace, including Michigan, only the federal government can open the marketplace to provide for a new open enrollment period.

To date, the Trump Administration has not agreed to allow for a new open enrollment period for states that use the federally-facilitated exchange, and has instead committed funds from the CARES Act to cover the costs of the uninsured who have medical bills associated with COVID-19.

  • Editor’s note, April 21, 2020: CMS has just updated with a new webpage that includes information on special enrollment periods resulting from loss of employer-based coverage, assesses eligibility for programs like Medicaid and CHIP, and gives consumers seeking to initiate a special enrollment period more flexibility when submitting documents to be verified.

For those with employer-sponsored health insurance, the Affordable Care Act does allow for a special enrollment period if insurance is lost as a result of a job loss. Those who lose health insurance following a job loss have 60 days to apply for this coverage. However, individuals who lose their jobs, but do not already have health insurance, are not able to participate in this special enrollment period.

According to the recently-released annual Marketplace Open Enrollment Period Report from the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 262,919 Michiganders enrolled in a subsidized Affordable Care Act health insurance plan through, the federally-facilitated marketplace, during the most recent annual open enrollment period, which lasted six weeks. This figure marks a reduction in the number of enrollees from 2019, during which 274,058 Michiganders selected a plan.

There are other coverage options for the recently unemployed such as COBRA, a higher cost insurance program that can be utilized for up to 18 months by people who recently had a change in their employment status, as well as Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which are accessible through MiBridges. Michigan residents can contact the Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) at 877-999-6442 or, for more information.

Read COVID-19 and the Uninsured and 2020 Rate Analysis by Marianne Udow-Phillips, Ryan Bartholomew, and Nancy Baum.

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