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Health insurance coronavirus covid-19

Importance of health insurance during Coronavirus pandemic COVID-19

Last updated: February 17,2021
Originally Published: August 11,2020
by Rosen Valchev

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The Coronavirus pandemic has brought the world to a standstill while causing some serious health concerns. One of which is how to get health insurance during Coronavirus.

It made us reconsider our lifestyles. Frankly, for most of us, the COVID-19 pandemic meant a whole new lifestyle. Whether we liked it or not.

It is not surprising that many people turned their primary focus onto their health. Learning how to protect yourself from the virus, strengthening your immune system, and taking care of your mental health. For the majority of us that was the main concern.

Unfortunately, the US turned out to be the country with the most COVID-19 cases in the whole world. Close to 5 million people have contracted the Coronavirus disease at the time of writing.

As you can imagine that was a great shock to the US healthcare system. Not only because of the sheer volume of the deceased. But because healthcare in the US is ridiculously expensive in general.

Even during normal times when there isn’t a horrific decease out there. Especially if you don’t have enough health insurance. Or you have no health insurance at all. The question still remains. How to get health insurance during Coronavirus when cash isn’t in excess?

Sadly, in the US the healthcare system is mainly driven by private companies and contractors. Still, whatever your current situation is don’t get desperate.

Certain government programs like the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the newly signed by president Trump CARES Act and more, made it easier and cheaper for people to get healthcare insurance. 

If you don’t have active health insurance or you recently lost it due to unemployment, you can see what you qualify for right now so you don’t stay uninsured. 

Health Insurance Cost

A major concern for most people is the cost of health insurance. It is not a secret medical bills in the US are hefty. In fact, they are one of the most common reasons for accruing debt. 

But don’t think you will fool the system by not paying for healthcare. The effort to save a few bucks can actually cost both your physical and financial health. Charges for Coronavirus testing and treatment could be very high.

The same applies for hospitalization if you are not insured. So don’t take an unnecessary risk and make sure you get sufficient insurance. Right now you want to make sure that your insurance plan is covering COVID-19. But more on that later.

For now, let’s see what is the actual price of health insurance. And of course what determines the health insurance cost. According to a massive health insurance survey conducted by Kaizer Foundation, the average health insurance premium for single workers in 2019 was $7,188.

However, the approximate amount that workers actually paid was $1,242 annually or $103,50 a month.  That is because the rest of the premium, or to be more precise $5,946 (82.8%) of the health insurance was covered by employers.

And with COVID-19 leaving millions of people jobless it is no wonder why suddenly health insurance became a huge concern. 

But what determines the price of health insurance? Actually the factors are many. For instance, the type of health insurance policy you get, state and federal cost regulations, and your demographics all affect heavily health insurance costs. 

Here is a more detailed list of health insurance cost factors:

  • Your level of income. 
  • The area you live in. Insurance is cheaper for people who live in cities and more expensive for individuals located in rural areas.
  • The county you live in. Some counties don’t have much health insurance options.
  • Your age. Of course, older people pay much more.
  • Whether you are a smoker. Tobacco users can pay up to 50% more for health insurance. 
  • The size of the company if you are employed. At large corporations insurance is cheaper most of the time. On the contrary, low-wage workers pay more through employers but often qualify for cheaper health insurance if not employed.

Read More: Does Life Insurance Cover Coronavirus?

Health Insurance Benefits

The benefits of owning health insurance are many. The main, however, are two. First, it protects your health and wellbeing. Second, it protects you financially. The two are connected. When something happens the stress of not being able to pay is too much to bear.

And honestly, there is a pretty big chance you have an emergency situation at some point in your life. Even some simple medical services can cost an arm and a leg. So imagine how much you will have to pay if something serious happens and you are not insured.

The worst thing? You may even receive low-quality service and treatment. But you will pay anyways. If you have adequate health insurance, that is not likely to happen.

These two reasons alone should be enough of a stimulus to get health insurance ASAP if you still don’t have. But anyway, let’s dig deeper into the matter. We will also explore some other benefits of health insurance which are further proof of why you need health insurance.

Protect your family members

One way that health insurance protects your family is the following. If something happens to you and you are not insured you will have to pay the money out of your pocket.

That is not going to reflect well on the family budget. In the worst-case scenario, where you are out of money or don’t have enough to cover your health expenses family members would need to step in and help. 

This way your family, friends, or whoever helped would need to bear the financial burden with you. Such a situation can lead to severe financial troubles and even ruined relationships. So it is wise to have health insurance, not only for yourself but for others as well.

However, there is another approach to that. Instead of buying individual health insurance, you can opt for family health insurance. In this way, the whole family will be protected, both medically and financially.

Have access to essential health benefits

Don’t underestimate the costs of essential health benefits. One thing that is covered by health insurance is hospitalization. Think in terms of surgery and overnight stays at the hospital.

Do you wonder what can be the costs for that? Let’s give an example with a recent case. Michael Flor, a 70-year old man from Seattle, was hospitalized with COVID-19.

He had to spend 62 days in a Swedish Medical Center in Issaquah, Washington. What did Flor see when the bill came? It turned out that his hospital stay and Coronavirus treatment cost $1.1 million. That’s right. Million.

God forbid he didn’t have health insurance. In the end, the only charge Flor accrued from this jaw-dropping bill was a $6,000 deductible. However, because some special rules apply to patients with COVID-19 he probably won’t have to pay that amount out of his pocket either.

The good news is health insurance obviously covers Coronavirus. But it doesn’t cover only that. Here are some more essential services, except hospitalization, that are covered by health insurance:

  • Prescription drugs
  • Emergency services
  • Laboratory tests and services
  • Ambulatory services (patient services that don’t require hospitalization)
  • Pregnancy costs as well as maternity and newborn care (very costly without health insurance)
  • Mental health and disorder services (this includes regular counseling and psychotherapy)
  • Rehabilitation(to recover from an injury, also for chronically disabled people)

However, there are some services that are typically not covered by a regular health insurance plan. On the positive side, these services can be added to the policy for an additional charge. These include adult dental coverage, adult vision coverage, and special programs for people with diabetes, back pain, or other special conditions.

Receive free preventive care

The old stigma applies here. Prevention is better than cure. Always. Luckily, most health insurance plans can help you get the prevention you need.

All health insurance plans falling under Obamacare and its set up marketplaces (health insurance exchanges) are required to have preventive services included in them. In fact, most medical insurance plans have these services included in them anyway.

Different preventive services like screening, vaccines, and many more are included in the list of preventive services. What’s best? You are not required to pay anything extra, like copayment or coinsurance, to take advantage of these services.

Prevention services can be three different types. For children, for women, and for all adults. Each type has many and different services included in them.

For example, the children’s preventive service list includes blood screening for newborns, depression screening, different immunization vaccines for children from birth till the age of 18, and many more. The full list can be found here.

Health insurance COVID-19 relief

Unfortunately, due to the emergency situation with COVID-19 some hospitals and doctors had to conduct COVID-19 tests and treat uninsured individuals from Coronavirus as well. 

Apparently there were some significant costs accumulated from that.  For that reason, President Trump signed a distribution of relief funds under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The amount which was released to hospitals and other healthcare institutions and providers was 100 billion with additional funding being released shortly after. 

Each medical institution that has performed a COVID-19 test or treatment of uninsured individuals could request a reimbursement that will be covered by the government, with the funds from the CARES Act. However, all reimbursements are calculated at Medicare rates which are lower than the medical staff’s usual rate.

Also, to receive the reimbursement the hospital or another medical organization or provider should file an electronic claim. Meaning they have to go and actually claim their money, as the government doesn’t disburse these funds without a request.

Anyway, this helped a lot since the government prevented literally hundreds of thousands of people from being stranded and left out with no help. Still, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have health insurance.

Some healthcare institutions may refuse to claim reimbursement under the CARES act and bill you for the charges accrued. So it is a good idea to have health insurance during COVID-19 as you don’t want to leave things to luck. 

Getting Health Insurance During Coronavirus

At the current moment, there is one thing that your health insurance should definitely cover. You guessed correctly. It should cover all costs related to testing for Coronavirus and treating the disease.

The good news is if you have comprehensive health insurance you are covered against COVID-19. That includes COVID-19 tests and treatment. All comprehensive plans should be compliant with Obamacare (ACA) regardless if they are sponsored by your employer or individually bought.

However, if you have any doubts your health insurance is ACA compliant call the insurance provider to find out. If it isn’t the insurer may refuse to pay your COVID-19 expenses.

health insurance during Coronavirus

Also, if you recently lost your job due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there is a high chance you are eligible to enroll in Medicaid. Lots of states have expanded the program to encompass more individuals negatively affected by COVID-19. So make sure you check that.

Another important thing to have in mind if your current health insurance plan is expiring. You don’t want to wait until the last minute.

If you already lost your health coverage you can apply for health isnurance today. But you may have to wait for the beginning of the following month for the coverage to start. So don’t wait to apply or change your plan at the last minute. Take action now.

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