What to Know About Health Insurance During the COVID-19 Pandemic

My hope is you’re safe and healthy as we work together to beat COVID 19. I expect our collective resolve to result in some light in this tunnel soon. Meanwhile, it’s important to keep your health insurance in force and be aware of any developments. So I’ve prepared this Q+A:

What if I lose my job and health insurance?

First, if you have a spouse with an employer plan, see if you can enroll in that plan.

Second, consider COBRA. COBRA allows people who have lost their jobs to stay on their employer plan for up to 18 months. The problem is you need to pay the full cost so it’s expensive. You could also buy an individual plan, but that also might be a financial challenge if you lost your job.

Third, sign up for a plan under the Affordable Care Act which provides subsidies for qualifying consumers. In California that’s known as Covered California, or at lower income levels, Medi-Cal. In response to COVID 19 Covered California has extended its special enrollment period through June 30, 2020.

What if I can’t afford my health insurance right now?

States are considering various measures to provide temporary relief. In California the insurance commissioner has asked for a 60 day grace period before carriers are allowed to cancel for non-payment. Do not assume this policy is in force without first confirming with your carrier.

How is COVID 19 being handled by Medicare?

  • Medicare covers the lab tests for COVID-19. You pay no out-of-pocket costs.
  • Medicare covers all medically necessary hospitalizations. This includes if you’re diagnosed with COVID-19 and might otherwise have been discharged from the hospital after an inpatient stay, but instead you need to stay in the hospital under quarantine.
  • At this time, there’s no vaccine for COVID-19. However, if one becomes available, it will be covered by all Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (Part D).
  • If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you have access to these same benefits. Medicare allows these plans to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 lab tests.


What if someone calls me and asks for my Medicare Number?

It’s probably a scammer using the coronavirus national emergency to take advantage of people while they’re distracted. Guard your Medicare card like a credit card and check your Medicare claims summary forms for errors. If someone calls asking for your Medicare Number, hang up!

What if I can’t get ahold of my doctor, or my provider won’t take an appointment?

Hospitals across the country have established hotlines to address concerns about COVID 19, especially if you have fever, cough or difficulty breathing. In the greater Palm Springs area, the Eisenhower COVID hotline number is 760-837-8988.

For other matters, Teladoc is a network of licensed primary care physicians who diagnose routine, non-emergency medical problems via the telephone or video. Here is a list of health carriers that cover this service, or have their own teledoc plans: 

  • Blue Shield of California
  • Health Net of California
  • Aetna
  • United HealthCare

I’m a Canadian. Can I buy health insurance for when I’m here in the US?

Health insurance of that kind is not sold in the US. You can buy special travel insurance in Canada that may provide health benefits in the US.

What if I have questions about my specific plan, claim, doctor or condition?

You should contact your health insurance provider directly. Providers will not disclose patient information to Desert Insurance Solutions because of privacy restrictions.

What if I have questions about insurance options, alternative plans, open enrollments, group insurance for my business, etc.?

You should contact your Desert Insurance Solutions health insurance expert Colleen Flores:
Cell (during shelter-in-place) 760-895-7350
Office (when back to normal) 760-564-6800

Make it a safe day!