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News You Need: Help with Insurance, Social Security, & Student Loans

Here is the latest news you need about laws and programs that may impact the cancer community, including health insurance options, changes to social security benefits, and student loan repayment.

Federal Updates

Are You Unhappy with Your Medicare Advantage Plan?

The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period runs from January 1 to March 31, 2022. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can change to a new Medicare Advantage Plan, or switch to original Medicare, during this time. When changing to another Medicare Advantage Plan, you will be automatically unenrolled in your previous plan when your new coverage starts. If you change to original Medicare, you can contact your Medicare Advantage plan to drop your coverage. For more information on Medicare, you can review Triage Cancer’s Extended Quick Guide to Medicare. Additionally, Triage Cancer’s Medicare Plan Comparison Worksheet may help you evaluate your options.

Will Your Social Security Benefits Increase in 2022?

Yes! People who get Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and Social Security retirement will receive an increase of 5.9% due to a cost of living adjustment (COLA). If you would like to see if you are receiving an increase, you can view your benefits information by creating a “my Social Security” account at ssa.gov/myaccount. You will see a notification of your COLA increase in the message center of your account.

Can My Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Application Denial Be Reevaluated?

Yes! Some individuals who were denied SSI due to the COVID-19 financial help they got, may now have access to SSI. The Social Security Administration (SSA) is reviewing thousands of SSI applications because they decided that the COVID-19 relief payments should not be considered income or resources when determining eligibility for SSI. If you do not receive notification of a review, you are able to contact SSA to request a review of your application. For more information on SSI, you can review Triage Cancer’s Quick Guide to Supplemental Security Income.

Do I Have to Start Repaying My Student Loans?

The pause on student loan repayments has been extended to May 1, 2022. The extension applies to most federal student loans that have been paused since March of 2020. Interest is not accruing on these loans and collections on defaulted debt are still paused. The U.S. Department of Education is working to help borrowers with the transition to repaying loans starting May 1, 2022. For more information on finances, you can review Triage Cancer’s website at triagecancer.org/financial.

State Updates

What Should I Know About Health Insurance in My State?

    • More Missouri residents are now eligible for Medicaid, if their household income is at or below 138% of the federal poverty level.
    • South Dakota residents will be able to vote on Medicaid expansion in November 2022. If the upcoming ballot proposition is passed, eligibility for the Medicaid program would include individuals who have incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty level.
    • Colorado residents can now purchase health insurance through the state Marketplace until March 16, 2022. The extended open enrollment period was created to help people affected by recent wildfires, but allows anyone in Colorado to sign up for health insurance. For more information on health insurance marketplaces, see: Triage Cancer’s Quick Guide to Health Insurance Marketplaces.
    • Kentucky, Maine, and New Mexico now have state-run health insurance Marketplaces, where individuals can find health insurance options from private insurance companies. For information on how to access your state-run marketplace, visit HeatlhCare.gov.
      • In California, beginning May 1, 2022, individuals over 50, regardless of immigration status, will be provided with full Medi-Cal coverage as long as they meet the financial eligibility requirements. If you are 50 or older and receiving limited Medi-Cal, you will automatically be transferred over on May 1, 2022.
      • Also, in California, starting July 1, 2022, the asset test for Medi-Cal and Medicare Savings Programs will be significantly increased. This allows an individual to have $130,000 in assets and $65,000 in assets for each additional family member. The asset test will be fully phased out on July 1, 2024.
    • The California Family Rights Act, which allows individuals to take leave to care for some family members, has been expanded. It now includes care for a parent-in-law with a serious medical condition.
    • California residents who are terminally ill, will now have a shorter waiting period to access medication through the death with dignity law. Although Californians have had access to death with dignity for five years, thousands of terminally ill patients were unable to access the medication because of a waiting period. Starting January 1, 2022, the waiting period will be limited to 48 hours. For more information on death with dignity laws, see: Triage Cancer’s Estate Planning Toolkit.


Stay tuned for more news at the national and state level that may impact the cancer community.

About Triage Cancer

Triage Cancer is a national, nonprofit providing free education to people diagnosed with cancer, caregivers, and health care professionals on cancer-related legal and practical issues. Through events, materials, and resources, Triage Cancer is dedicated to helping people move beyond diagnosis. Please visit our website for more free resources related to psychosocial care, stress management, exercise and nutrition, and more.

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