Urge Congress to include health insurance protections in the next COVID-19 federal aid package!

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During this difficult time of the COVID-19 outbreak, a record number of people have lost their sources of income and thus, their ability to pay for their health insurance. Access to health insurance is always important but it is especially important now during an unprecedented global pandemic. Health insurance provides coverage for the network of doctors, nurses, and other health care providers that you can visit for not only primary care but also testing and treatment of the coronavirus. Individuals with chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes need to remain insured because they are not only more at risk for a severe COVID-19 case, but these underlying illnesses are the cause of 75 percent of new kidney failure cases. Insurance is very important for continuity of care to ensure that chronic illnesses are addressed.

The American Kidney Fund believes that four main insurance provisions should be included in the next coronavirus relief legislation that would better ensure that people can keep their private insurance. The federal government should do the following:

  1. Open a special enrollment period (SEP) for qualified health plans bought through Marketplace/Exchange. These plans are also known as “Obamacare” plans. Currently, people who have lost their insurance can enroll in a QHP; hence, people who lost their employer provided health insurance could enroll. However, people who were uninsured or missed the enrollment period are not eligible to enroll.
  2. Prohibit QHP insurers from cancelling policies for failure to pay the premium. Some states have directed plans to extend policies even in cases of nonpayment and then work out a payment plan starting when the national emergency of the COVID-19 outbreak is over. This step would ensure that people can retain their coverage when they could need it most.
  3. Require Medigap insurers to offer grace periods for Medicare beneficiaries who cannot pay their premiums. Medicare Supplemental (Medigap) plans cover many costs that Medicare does not pay. Medigap is especially essential for dialysis patients because of the high costs of care. Medigap is a private insurance plan that is provided by health insurance companies. Some state and private insurance companies have announced that they will provide a grace period, meaning that Medicare beneficiaries will have more than 30 days after payment is due to pay their premium. During this time, their policy will not be cancelled for non-payment. The federal government should direct these plans to provide a grace period and it should not be optional.
  4. Provide a COBRA subsidy. COBRA allows recently terminated employees to keep their employer’s health insurance for 18 months by paying the entire health insurance premium. During the financial crisis of 2008, a 65 percent COBRA subsidy was created to help people retain their insurance, which lasted until May 31, 2010. The federal government should implement this policy again so people can retain their doctors and have continuity of care when health insurance is so important.

To take action and ask your elective officials to include these provisions in the next COVID-19 federal legislative package, please fill out the form below.

Recipients

  • Your Senators
  • Your Representative

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Question - Not Required - What is your connection to kidney disease?










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Once you submit the form, your personalized message will be sent directly to your Members of Congress.

 
 

Message

Please include health insurance protections in the next COVID-19 federal aid package!

Dear [Decision Maker],



During this difficult time of the COVID-19 outbreak, a record number of people have lost their sources of income and thus, their ability to pay for their health insurance. Access to health insurance is always important but it is especially important during an unprecedented global pandemic. Health insurance provides coverage for the network of doctors, nurses, and other health care providers that you can visit for not only primary care but also testing and treatment of the coronavirus. Individuals with chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes need to remain insured because they are not only more at risk for a severe COVID-19 case, but these underlying illnesses are the cause of 75 percent of new kidney failure cases. Insurance is very important for continuity of care to ensure that chronic illnesses are addressed.

Please include four insurance provisions in the next coronavirus relief legislation that would better ensure that people can keep their private insurance. The provisions are:

1) Open a special enrollment period (SEP) for qualified health plans bought through Marketplace/Exchange. These plans are also known as "Obamacare" plans. Currently, people who have lost their insurance can enroll in a QHP; hence, people who lost their employer-provided health insurance could enroll. However, people who were uninsured or missed the enrollment period are not eligible to enroll.

2) Prohibit QHP insurers from cancelling policies for failure to pay the premium. Some states have directed plans to extend policies even in cases of nonpayment and then work out a payment plan starting when the national emergency of the COVID-19 outbreak is over. This step would ensure that people can retain their coverage when they could need it most.

3) Require Medigap insurers to offer grace periods for Medicare beneficiaries who cannot pay their premiums. Medicare Supplemental (Medigap) plans cover many costs that Medicare does not pay. Medigap is especially essential for dialysis patients because of the high costs of care. Medigap is a private insurance plan that is provided by health insurance companies. Some state and private insurance companies have announced that they will provide a grace period, meaning that Medicare beneficiaries will have more than 30 days after payment is due to pay their premium. During this time, their policy will not be cancelled for non-payment. The federal government should direct these plans to provide a grace period and it should not be optional.

4) Provide a COBRA subsidy. COBRA allows recently terminated employees to keep their employer's health insurance for 18 months by paying the entire health insurance premium. During the financial crisis of 2008, a 65 percent COBRA subsidy was created to help people retain their insurance, which lasted until May 31, 2010. The federal government should implement this policy again so people can retain their doctors and have continuity of care when health insurance is so important.

Thank you for your leadership on addressing the coronavirus pandemic and for helping your constituents with kidney disease and other underlying causes.

Sincerely,
[Your Name]
[Your Address]
[City, State ZIP]