What Partners Need to Know Now about Health Insurance Coverage during the Pandemic

CMS Memo – February 17, 2021 | As COVID-19 vaccines begin rolling out across the country, CMS is taking action to protect the health and safety of our nation’s patients and providers and keeping you updated on the latest COVID-19 resources from HHS, CDC and CMS.

With information coming from many different sources, CMS has compiled resources and materials to help you share important and relevant information on the COVID-19 vaccine with the people that you serve. You can find these and more resources on the COVID-19 Partner Resources Page and the HHS COVID Education Campaign page.  

The Importance of Community-Based Organizations during the Pandemic

With the COVID-19 national emergency, many people are facing unprecedented challenges. Some have lost their jobs, and have lost health insurance coverage for themselves and their families. Others may be underinsured with unaffordable health coverage, or may have health insurance, but aren’t sure how to access the services that they need for their health problems.

With these uncertainties, Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) are key players who can help link community members to valuable resources, including how and where to obtain health insurance. CBOs also play a major role in educating community members about COVID-19 vaccines, raising awareness about the benefits of vaccination, and addressing common questions and concerns. As many communities are waiting for their turn to get the vaccine, CBOs can encourage them to take the time to consider their health insurance coverage.

What can CBOs do now to help your community access valuable resources on the vaccine and health insurance coverage?

  • Use the NEW Community-Based Organizations COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit. Soon the communities you serve will have access to vaccines to help protect against COVID-19. CDC has designed a toolkit to help CBOs educate communities about this important new prevention tool. This toolkit is designed for staff of organizations serving communities affected by COVID-19.
  • Share COVID-19 Vaccine information and Resources with the communities that you serve. Here’s some messaging to share with your communities through newsletters, e-mail listserv announcements or other channels:
    • You can receive the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost. People without health insurance or whose insurance does not provide coverage of the vaccine can also get the COVID-19 vaccine at no cost.
    • State governments are handling the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Look for updates from your state and local officials as more doses of the vaccine become available for additional priority groups.
  • Link community members to information on how to obtain health insurance or use their existing coverage:
    • Consumers can take advantage of a special enrollment period (SEP) for individuals and families to apply and enroll in the coverage they need starting February 15, 2021 through May 15, 2021. This SEP will be available to consumers in the 36 states served by Marketplaces that use HealthCare.gov. Read the press release.
    • Those in states with State Based Exchanges should check their state’s exchange website to find out specific enrollment options for their state. Go to Healthcare.gov to find out more information or be directed to your state’s exchange.
    • See if you qualify for Medicare, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program or check on your health benefits if you already have coverage.
    • The From Coverage to Care initiative, has resources such as the Roadmap to Better Care to help consumers understand their health coverage and connect to primary care and the preventive services that are right for them.

Questions? Please e-mail CMS: Partnership@cms.hhs.gov.