Johnstown, PA – Pennsylvania Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman and Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Jerry Oleksiak today reminded residents they can sign up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) outside of the open enrollment period if they qualify for one of several changes in their personal circumstances, including the loss of employer-sponsored health care coverage.
"Pennsylvanians can sign up for individual health insurance any time if they experience a change in their life circumstances that qualifies them for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP)," Altman said. Speaking at a PA CareerLink ® office in Johnstown, she said these circumstances include the loss of health insurance provided by an employer.
"Pennsylvanians visiting PA CareerLink® offices may be looking for help finding employment after having lost a job," Altman said. "This jarring life event often is made worse by the loss of employer sponsored health insurance. While many people are eligible for COBRA benefits, which allow them to keep their employer-sponsored health coverage for a period of time after their employment ends, the individual must pay the full cost of this coverage, plus a small administrative fee, which can be expensive, especially when someone is out of work."
Altman said individual coverage through the ACA may be a more affordable alternative for many people who have lost employer-sponsored coverage. This is especially true if the consumer is eligible for tax subsidies, which can significantly lower the monthly cost of coverage.
"Individuals with incomes up to $48,560 are eligible for tax subsidies to help with ACA plans in 2019, and the upper income limit for subsidy eligibility for a family of four is $100,400. This may make an ACA plan a better financial option than COBRA especially if an individual's or family's income has dropped because of a job loss," Altman said. Altman noted when a job seeker finds new employment, if that job comes with health coverage, the ACA plan can be discontinued simply by stopping the payment of monthly premiums.
"In addition to PA CareerLink® offices being 'one-stop shops' to assist job seekers with employment needs, we also provide a range of services for Pennsylvania residents," said Oleksiak. "Workers who are between jobs, or need information regarding ACA healthcare options, can find it, along with myriad of other work-related tools and information at CL's statewide."
Altman said another qualifying circumstance for a Special Enrollment Period is for seasonal workers, if they are moving to or from the place they live or work.
"This is important for many seasonal workers who come to Pennsylvania during the summer months to harvest various fruit crops in the state's agriculture industry," Altman said.
Information on the circumstances that may qualify someone for a Special Enrollment Period is available on the Insurance Department website, www.insurance.pa.gov. on the Health page.
Anyone with questions can also call the Insurance Department Bureau of Consumer Services at 1-877-881-6388, or visit the federal health care marketplace.
MEDIA CONTACT: Ron Ruman, Insurance, 717-787-3289; Penny Ickes, Labor and Industry, 717-787-7530