If you've lost your job or you're suddenly earning less money than you have in the past, your health insurance or the price you pay for it may change. Health insurance is complicated, but we're here to help. If you have questions, you can work with Catch and our team of licensed insurance agents.
The most important thing to know up front is that your options are time sensitive. If you've lost coverage or had another qualifying life event, you typically have 60 days to get a new plan or make changes.
If you are earning a lot less money...
The government offers health insurance options for low income families to purchase affordable care.
- Medicaid & CHIP: Medicaid is a joint federal and state program that provides health insurance coverage for lower income and disabled people. The income level you need to qualify varies by state. Eligibility is based on your current monthly income. If you've recently become unemployed, furloughed without pay and benefits, or had a reduction in income, you may be eligible. Medicaid is not limited to people who are uninsured. If you qualify and enroll in Medicaid, you can choose to cancel your other coverage and save on your expenses. Get started here.
- *Note: If you are only temporarily unable to earn income, you should check your eligibility on your state Medicaid website. If your income for the entire year has been affected, you may be able to find out if you're eligible for Medicaid by using Catch.
If you're earning a bit less money (right now)...
- Do you have coverage from an employer? Check with your employer if changes to your hours or salary impact the amount you pay for health insurance. If you have questions about your coverage, ask your insurance company.
- Have you purchased individual insurance from the marketplace? If you bought insurance from a state marketplace or healthcare.gov (or Catch!), be sure to report a change in your income. You may be eligible for additional subsidies. These subsidies can lower your premium costs. You can file your changes by logging in or creating an account here. Catch covers all states except those listed here.
If you recently lost your health insurance coverage....
If you lost coverage, either from losing your own job or from a spouse or parent losing coverage, you have some options.
- COBRA: if you worked for a company with more than 20 employees, COBRA is an option. If your company is smaller, COBRA may still be an option, but it isn't always, so you'll want to check with your employer. COBRA allows you to keep the insurance policy that you had through your employer. The employer will no longer contribute to premium payments (if they did before), so it will likely be more expensive. You can compare this option to a potentially less expensive marketplace coverage through Catch to make sure you choose what is best for you given your health needs and your financial situation.
- Marketplace: after you lose coverage, you can apply for individual health insurance through the federal marketplace or your state-based exchange depending on where you live. Catch can get you to the right place here.
- Get Added to Someone Else's Plan: you may be able to be added to a spouse or parent's plan (if you're under 26) if they still have coverage separate from you. If this applies to you, start by reaching out to the plan administrator (e.g. for employer-based coverage, reach out to the employer or benefits administrator; for a marketplace plan, reach out to the marketplace).
If you didn't have health insurance before the COVID-19 pandemic and still don't...
If you're not currently enrolled in health insurance, now is a good time to assess your options. Health insurance is an important part of your safety net to protect you (and your family) in case you get sick. Typically people who need to enroll in health insurance must do so during Open Enrollment (November 1 - December 15) each year. However, there are some options that may allow you to get coverage now.
- Special Enrollment Period (SEP): if you've experienced a "qualifying life event," whether related to COVID-19 or not, you may be eligible to enroll now. You can find out if you're eligible here. Some changes that qualify include:
- Loss of Health Insurance in the past 60 days, or expect to in the next 60 days
- Life Changes like getting married, having a baby, adopting a child, placing a child for foster care, or getting divorced
- Change in Residence like moving to new ZIP code, moving to or from school as a student, being a seasonal worker and moving to live and work, or moving to/from a shelter or transitional housing
- Note that if one of these changes happened to someone in your household, you might also be eligible.
- COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period: some states have made a special exception because of COVID-19 and have opened up their insurance marketplaces to allow people to enroll in health insurance. The marketplaces are eligible for subsidies based on income. This is time sensitive, so please pay attention to the deadlines for your state. If your state is not listed, we recommend you continue to check as things are changing quickly and your state may make an update.
- CA (deadline June 30)
- CO (deadline April 30)
- CT (deadline April 17):
- DC (deadline June 15)
- MD (deadline June 15)
- MA (deadline May 25)
- MN (deadline April 21)
- NV (deadline May 15)
- NY (deadline May 15)
- RI (deadline April 30)
- VT (deadline May 15)
- WA (deadline May 8)
- Decent for Austin, TX: if you happen to be part of the wonderful self-employed community in the Austin, TX area, you are likely eligible to get health insurance through our partner Decent. Decent supports enrollment throughout the year. Decent plans are ACA-compliant and a great low-cost option. Check out Decent plans here.