Rep. Abby Fineknauer wants to see the federal government open up the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace to uninsured Americans during the coronavirus pandemic.
On March 31, the Trump Administration announced that it would not allow a special enrollment period for health insurance plans that are offered through exchanges made possible by the ACA. Later in the week Finkenauer sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to urge the administration to reconsider the decision.
“I understand that the Administration considered offering a special enrollment period and I strongly urge reconsideration of your final decision,” she wrote in the letter. “There are few times more urgent than a public health crisis to allow individuals to get covered and choose health insurance plans that best reflect their needs. As coronavirus continues to spread, insurance status should not stand in the way of people getting care and a special enrollment period is one way to extend coverage.”
Although coronavirus tests are now free in the United States, if a patient tests positive and needs medical care and prescription drugs, the cost without health insurance could be well into the thousands. According to reports, being hospitalized for coronavirus can cost anywhere from $42,486 to $74,310 if a person is uninsured or receiving treatment out-of-network.
The cost of care can be a challenge for some and downright prohibitive for others which can create an extra risk factor for people dealing with COVID-19.
“Opening the exchanges could provide a lifeline to Iowans who cannot obtain insurance through their employer, have lost their jobs, or want the peace of mind that comes with comprehensive health insurance coverage,” Finkenauer wrote in her letter. “Swift action will provide certainty to these families and help protect public health in Iowa.”