Published July 28, 2020
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The unemployment rate in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic has crested near 15%. One demographic that especially feels the blow to the economy has been adults age 65 and over, for whom the unemployment rate is slightly higher than the national average and is the second highest rate among all age brackets.1
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With so many seniors losing their jobs, many have also lost something else vital: their health insurance.
Below we’ll address some common situations that are playing out among older adults in 2020, including ways that older adults may be able to find new health insurance coverage.
If you lost your employer-provided health insurance and otherwise qualify for Medicare, you will most likely be granted an 8-month Special Enrollment Period to sign up for Medicare.
Your Special Enrollment Period will most likely begin the month after losing your coverage. You will not face any late enrollment penalties for signing up at this time.
Let’s say you lost your job (and the health insurance that came with it), so you took advantage of your Special Enrollment Period to enroll in Medicare. However, you have since decided to return to the workforce.
Here are some of your options:
For more information and answers to your specific questions, you can reach out to your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
You may be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period to sign up for Medicare if your spouse is still working and you are covered under a group insurance plan that is associated with your spouse’s employer.
If you are under age 65 and do not qualify for Medicare because of a disability, you will likely have to wait until you are 65 years old to enroll.
Until then, you may be able to bridge the insurance coverage gap by:
It never hurts to reach out for help.
For questions about Original Medicare, you can call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).
You can also learn more about Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare Part D prescription drug plans by calling to speak with a licensed insurance agent or by comparing plans online for free, with no obligation to enroll.
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Or call TTY Users: 711 to speak with a licensed insurance agent. We accept calls 24/7!
1 Cubanski J, et al. (May 13, 2020). Older Adults Are Hit Hard by COVID-19 -- and Also Losing Jobs. Kaiser Family Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-policy-watch/older-adults-are-hit-hard-by-covid-19-and-also-losing-jobs.
Christian Worstell is a licensed insurance agent and a Senior Staff Writer for MedicareAdvantage.com. He is passionate about helping people navigate the complexities of Medicare and understand their coverage options.
His work has been featured in outlets such as Vox, MSN, and The Washington Post, and he is a frequent contributor to health care and finance blogs.
Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He currently lives in Raleigh, NC.
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