End the duopoly

First health care deadlines approach for laid-off workers

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Washington — Many laid-off workers who lost health insurance in the coronavirus shutdown soon face the first deadlines to qualify for fallback coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

Taxpayer-subsidized health insurance is available for a modest cost – sometimes even free – across the country, but industry officials and independent researchers say few people seem to know how to find it. For those who lost their health insurance as layoffs mounted in late March, a 60-day “special enrollment” period for individual coverage under the ACA closes at the end of May in most states.

Altheia Franklin, who lives near Houston, lost her medical plan after being laid off from a job at an upscale retirement community, as a counselor to seniors making the move. Stay-at-home orders and higher virus risks for older people have put such life transitions on hold in the pandemic.

Franklin said she received plenty of government information about coronavirus safety and economic stimulus payments, but “the insurance piece just has not been mentioned.”

She scrambled and finally found an ACA – or “Obamacare” – plan she could still afford on a reduced income. “We are in the middle of a pandemic, and God forbid if I get sick and […]

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