As a result of the coronavirus crisis, Americans are losing their jobs in record numbers. And, when jobs are lost, benefits also end.
Millions of people are now facing uncertainty not only around their employment but also about how to continue their healthcare coverage. Especially in the face of a public health emergency when their job is gone and their income is lost or significantly reduced.
COBRA is an option, but it’s expensive. Even when their former employer foots part or all of the bill with a subsidy, at some point the subsidy will end and that person will be faced with potential loss of coverage.
When an employee initially loses coverage, there are a number of options in addition to COBRA. For example, if a spouse, domestic partner or parent has coverage under their employer’s plan, they could be enrolled—if they meet the eligibility requirements—as a dependent under that employer’s plan. That’s because a dependent’s loss of other coverage is a qualified life event.
However, not all employer plans offer a subsidy for dependent coverage, so this can be an expensive proposition. It can also have the unwanted effect of significantly increasing the deductible and out-of-pocket maximum when the coverage tier changes, further driving up monthly contribution costs and the outlay for services before the plan kicks in, which can be financially devastating for families that just lost one income.
With enrollment in a family member’s plan, the only option is the current plan—either the one the employee was enrolled in before they lost eligibility or the one the family member is currently enrolled in. However, the healthcare plan that made financial sense at last year’s Annual Enrollment might not be the most economically appropriate one in the current circumstances.
(This is also generally true when electing COBRA coverage, although some employers have been considering allowing COBRA participants to choose another plan on enrollment.)
Employees losing their benefits eligibility need a more flexible and affordable way to continue their healthcare coverage with the ability to find a plan that meets their current needs. However, they may not be aware of all the options that exist, or how to navigate the healthcare plan landscape.
Businessolver offers a program that connects people who need coverage with insurance that fits their needs through the MyChoice™ Market.
The MyChoice Market has been used by employers looking to offer benefits access to part-time, gig and contract workers, but it also has several distinct advantages for employees who are laid off as a result of COVID-19.
And, this choice-making extends to eligible family members. Unlike with traditional group coverage, a user in the MyChoice Market can choose a different plan for different people. This helps them tailor their plan choices so they can individually right-size plans in terms of cost and coverage.
A private exchange like MyChoice Market also makes sense for the employer for a number or reasons.
As employers are forced to lay off workers due to the impacts of COVID-19, there are options beyond COBRA for former employees’ post-employment healthcare coverage. Connecting people to products and plans that are affordable and accessible can help them retain the healthcare coverage that is so vital given our current situation.
Want more insights to help you navigate HR and benefits challenges in the time of COVID-19? Find additional resources below.