I just lost my job. How do I get health insurance?
By Stacey Pogue and Melissa McChesney
The Coronavirus has laid bare how many gaps exist in our patchwork system of health insurance coverage. Some Texans who’ve lost jobs will be able to enroll in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Health Insurance Marketplace with reduced premiums, but others won’t. Many Texans who remain working on the frontlines in low-wage jobs like grocery store clerks, day care workers, and home health aides are not offered job-based insurance. They may want coverage now more than ever, given that they work in essential jobs that cannot be done remotely and that increase their risk of exposure to Coronavirus. They have no affordable coverage options today because Texas has failed to expand Medicaid.
Shoring up health coverage in Texas will also help efforts to combat COVID-19. The most recent Census data show that 5 million Texans were uninsured in 2018, a number that is certain to grow given staggering job losses. In the last four weeks, more than 1 million Texans have filed for unemployment, and job losses are expected to keep growing. People who are uninsured are more likely to delay or skip needed care. Efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 and reduce fatalities will be less effective if uninsured Texans do not seek COVID-19 testing or treatment for fear of cost.