Information on Finding Health Coverage
If you’re laid off
For employees who are terminated, benefits usually end with your job and you’ll have to pay for health insurance yourself. You can keep your employer plan for up to three years, under a federal program known as COBRA, but now you’ll have to foot the entire bill. If you have a high-deductible plan and health savings account, or HSA, you can use those funds to pay for COBRA premiums and for your medical costs. If you have a Flexible Savings Account, or FSA, you can only use those funds for medical costs. In some instances employers may offer to subsidize COBRA coverage ... for a period of time. So employees should be asking for that as well, as a possibility. But monthly COBRA premiums on employer plans can be very expensive, so it may not be the best option. Plus, if your employer has gone out of business, the health plan is usually terminated, so COBRA won’t be available.
In general, laid-off employees may be better off buying insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Your drop in income could mean you’ll qualify for a premium tax credit, which could bring your premiums down substantially.
Arizona Companies Offering Individual and Family Plans
As of October 2019, there are five Arizona health insurance companies that offer individual and family plans both in and outside of the federal Marketplace:
Arizona Complete Health: Available in Gina, Graham, Greenlee, Maricopa, Pinal, Pima, and Santa Cruz counties.
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona: Available statewide
Bright Health Company of Arizona: Maricopa and Pima counties
Cigna Healthcare of Arizona: Maricopa County only
Oscar Health Plan: Maricopa County only
For 2020, these Arizona insurance carriers offer bronze, silver, gold, and catastrophic health insurance plans. Arizona residents in several counties will have access to more plan options for 2020. For instance, Arizona Complete Health only offered plans in Maricopa and Pima counties for the 2019 plan year. But it has expanded coverage to five more counties (see counties above) for 2020. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, which offers 2020 plans across all 15 Arizona counties, is returning to the Maricopa county Marketplace since dropping out in 2016.5
Arizona Health Insurance Costs
Overall, Arizona residents aren’t likely to experience any increase in costs for 2020 individual and family plans compared to the previous year. The average monthly premium in Arizona for a 2020 Marketplace silver plan is $442, down from $471 for 2019. You could pay much less if you qualify for government subsidies. For example, a 30-year-old in Mesa, AZ earning $30,000 a year could pay $199 after subsidies ($355 before subsidies) for an Obamacare silver plan.
Obamacare Subsidies for Low-Income Residents in Arizona
If your income is low, you could get affordable private health insurance in Arizona with the help of Obamacare subsidies from the federal government. This includes premium tax credits to reduce your monthly premium on any metal plan. You may also qualify for cost-sharing reductions to lower your out-of-pocket expenses on silver plans. You qualify for premium tax credits if you enroll in a Marketplace plan and your income is between 100 to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. This amounts to $12,140 to $48,560 a year for an individual.
For 2019, 84 percent of Arizona Marketplace enrollees received subsidies while 48 percent received cost-sharing reductions.The average subsidy amount equaled $496, reducing monthly premiums to an average of $112 per month.
Arizona Public Health Insurance for Low-Income Adults and Children (Medicaid & CHIP)
Low-income households earning less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level ($24,984 or less per year) make up just a third of Arizona’s population3. This is the typical income level required to qualify for public health insurance through Arizona’s Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). About 22 percent of Arizona’s population is covered through Medicaid and CHIP. The state and the federal government jointly fund these programs.
Among Arizona residents, ages 19 to 64, one in five get benefits through Medicaid. For children, two in five have Medicaid coverage.3 The state’s Medicaid program is called the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS). Depending on your income, you may qualify for free or low-cost coverage through AHCCCS.
Below is a list of who qualifies for Arizona health insurance through AHCCCS:
• Childless adults
• Caretaker relatives of children
• Pregnant women
• Women seeking screening for breast and cervical cancer
• Adults over 65
• People with developmental or physical disabilities
• Individuals who need nursing home care
• Certain individuals enrolled in Medicare
Arizona KidsCare Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
If you have uninsured children (18 and younger) in your household who don’t qualify for Medicaid, they could receive low-cost health insurance through Arizona’s KidsCare program. Income and household size determine eligibility. If you have a family of four, for example, you must earn no more than $51,504. If approved, you’ll pay up to $50 a month for one child or up to $70 per month regardless of the number of children.