Daughter comforts her dad who is worried about paying bills.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has disrupted our economy, leading many people to lose their jobs — and their health insurance coverage. While some people may be familiar with their options for getting new coverage, others have questions about the process.

Before investigating new insurance options, talk to your employer about your job status. If you have been furloughed — meaning you have been put on an unpaid leave of absence — you may still have health benefits through your employer.

If you are certain you’ve lost your coverage, it is helpful to have the following things handy when you’re exploring your options:

Proof of loss of coverage
• Income and demographic information
• Social Security number

Do you qualify for Medical Assistance?

Depending on your situation, you may qualify for Medical Assistance (Medicaid). This provides coverage for both physical and mental health care, as well as substance use disorder services.

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services will determine whether you are eligible for Medicaid and what benefits you and your family (if applicable) would receive.

You can also contact your County Assistance Office to apply for Medicaid or download an application to send to them.

How can you get health care coverage for your child?

The Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, provides comprehensive health insurance for uninsured children and teens up to age 19. Enrollment is available year-round. Depending on your family’s income, your child may be enrolled in free, low-cost, or full-cost CHIP. Most eligible families can receive CHIP coverage at no cost.

This program is not available to children and teens who are eligible for Medical Assistance. Learn more about CHIP here.

Can you enroll in Medicare?

In certain circumstances, you may be eligible for Medicare or a Medicare Advantage plan. This might be an option if you recently lost your employer-sponsored health coverage and you either had your 65th birthday within the past three months or will have it within the next three months.

Are you eligible to purchase insurance on the Federally Facilitated Marketplace?

If you have lost your employer-sponsored health insurance coverage, you may be eligible for a special enrollment period through the Health Insurance Marketplace. For this option, you must enroll within 60 days of losing your coverage.

The Marketplace allows individuals and families to purchase comprehensive coverage that includes essential health benefits and preventive services. Depending on your household income, you could qualify for a government tax credit to help pay for your health insurance.

If you did not have health insurance through your employer before your employment status changed, you may not qualify for a special enrollment period. But other options may be available to you.

If you have lost your health insurance because of the COVID-19 pandemic, UPMC Health Plan is here to help. Call 1-877-563-0292 (TTY: 711) to chat with a specialist who can walk you through your coverage options.

If you have lost your job, you can learn about your unemployment options from Pennsylvania’s Office of Unemployment Compensation. Staff at the office may also be able to give you information about additional government benefits and resources.

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