I just lost my job. How do I get health insurance?

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Versión en español: Acabo de perder mi trabajo. ¿Cómo consigo un seguro médico?

In the last four weeks, more than 1 million Texans filed for unemployment, and job losses are expected to keep growing. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that, nationally, 46% of people who lost their job in the last month also lost their job-based health insurance.

CPPP put together a new resource to help Texans understand their health insurance coverage options, whether or not you just lost a job. Here’s a quick summary:

  • Families with low incomes can enroll their children under age 19 in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) at any time.
  • Texans who lost their job and their job-based insurance qualify for a special enrollment period in the Health Insurance Marketplace (www.HealthCare.gov). But act fast! You have to enroll within 60 days of losing your job-based coverage. Nine-in-ten Texans with Marketplace coverage get subsidies to help lower their premiums. These Texans may also have coverage options through COBRA or a spouse’s/parent’s plan.
  • You may qualify for a special enrollment period at HealthCare.gov for other reasons, like marriage, having a baby, or if receiving the new $600/week bump in unemployment insurance payments raises your annual income above the poverty line.

Read the full brief for information on income cut-offs for programs, how to find no-cost help enrolling, and more.

During this crisis, many Texans will fall through the cracks in our patchwork system of health insurance coverage and become uninsured. State and national policymakers should take immediate action to ensure access to coverage at this critical time.

  • Governor Abbott should expand Medicaid. It could cover 1.5 million uninsuredTexans, including many who remain working on the frontlines in low-wage jobs like grocery store clerks, day care workers, and home health aides. These jobs are essential, yet often lack job-based insurance.
  • The Trump Administration should create a streamlined Marketplace special enrollment period due to COVID-19, just as it has following Hurricane Harvey and other disasters. Absent action, millions of uninsured Texans—those who are working and others who have lost jobs—are locked out of coverage.

Stay tuned for additional updates from CPPP. You can find all of CPPP’s COVID-19-related work at http://bettertexasblog.org/covid19/.

This blog was written by CPPP Senior Policy Analysts Melissa McChesney and Stacey Pogue.

At the Center for Public Policy Priorities, we believe in a Texas that offers everyone the chance to compete and succeed in life. We envision a Texas where everyone is healthy, well-educated, and financially secure. We want the best Texas - a proud state that sets the bar nationally by expanding opportunity for all. CPPP is an independent public policy organization that uses data and analysis to advocate for solutions that enable Texans of all backgrounds to reach their full potential. We dare Texas to be the best state for hard-working people and their families.