Florida officials shut down the economy in March, indicating it said it would take a few weeks to “flatten the curve” and stop the virus from spreading and overwhelming the health care system. Six months, nearly 10,000 deaths and more than half-a-million COVID-19 positive cases later, the economy is not fully recovered and Julie remains among thousands of Florida residents forced to pay out of pocket for health care and medications. Or go without in the middle of a health pandemic.
“My application for Medicaid was denied,” Julie says incredulously. She assumed Medicaid was where you turned when your employer-based care ended. “I learned that in Florida, Medicaid is very limited and I didn’t qualify for any of the categories listed.”
Florida is one of 12 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid for uninsured adults, only allowing it for pregnant women, very poor parents and persons with disabilities.
Getting a COBRA policy – to continue paying her employer-based plan – was out of the question. Without any income, she couldn’t afford the $800-$1200 monthly premium. She was unaware that under the Affordable Care Act, she had 60 days after her policy lapsed to get a health care plan through a federal marketplace special enrollment period. With her limited income, she might have qualified for a subsidized policy. Some states have also created expanded COVID-related special enrollment periods and extended the deadlines several times. Florida, however, doesn’t run its own marketplace and the federal government didn’t create COVID-19 extensions beyond 60 days. So she missed her chance.