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News You Need: Help with Medical Debt, Insurance, & More

Here is the latest news you need about laws and programs that may impact the cancer community, including medical debt, health insurance options, and paid sick leave.

Federal Updates

Do You Have Medical Debt?

  • In July, the three main credit-reporting companies are changing how medical debt in collections affects credit reports. If you have paid off your medical debt after it was sent to a collections agency, but it is still on your credit report, it should be removed in July of 2022.
  • Also, if you have new medical bills sent to a collections agency, those bills will not be added to your credit report until the bill has been in collections for a year.
  • Finally, if you have medical debts of less than $500, those will be removed from your credit report next year. These changes are expected to remove about 70% of medical debt in collections from credit reports.
  • If you have concerns about medical bills, read our Quick Guide to Managing Medical Bills.

Do You Need Health Insurance Coverage?

  • Individuals and families below 150% federal poverty level (FPL) may have access to a special enrollment period to buy a plan through the health insurance Marketplace. If you are not eligible for Medicaid in your state, you may be eligible for this special enrollment period through the health insurance Marketplace. This option is expected to be available on HealthCare.gov starting in late March of 2022. For more information on the Marketplaces, read our Quick Guide to Health Insurance Marketplaces.

Do You Have Medical Bills from the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA)?

  • The VA will exhaust all debt collection efforts before reporting medical debt to consumer reporting companies. Now, Veterans with VA medical bills will have more opportunities to pay those bills before the debt affects their credit scores.

Do You Have Medicare?

  • Your Medicare premiums may go down in the middle of this year! However, the decision on lowering premiums will not be made until Medicare decides how it will cover a new Alzheimer’s medication. This decision is expected to be made in April.
  • A bill in Congress would require information about how to enroll in Medicare to be included in Social Security statements for individuals over the age of 60. This would be useful, as not everyone who qualifies for Medicare is automatically enrolled. Many people are unaware of the penalties they may face, if they fail to sign up for Medicare Parts B and D when they are first eligible. If you have questions about enrolling in Medicare, Triage Cancer has a Quick Guide to Medicare Enrollment Periods.

State Updates

  • New Jersey residents may have access to health insurance through the state’s Marketplace, if their income is below 200% of the FPL. This amounts to $25,760 for an individual, or $53,000 for a family of four. For more information on New Jersey’s “Expanded Access” special enrollment period, visit: nj.gov/getcoverednj.
  • New Mexico approved an “easy enrollment” program for health insurance to start in early 2023. Uninsured New Mexico residents filing taxes can allow their information to be shared with the state’s Medicaid program and health insurance Marketplace. If the state determines you are eligible for Medicaid, you will be automatically enrolled. If the state determines you are eligible for a Marketplace plan, they will give you with a special enrollment period and instructions on how to enroll. Other states have a similar program, including Maryland, Colorado, Virginia, and Pennsylvania.
  • Californians can receive COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave through September 30, 2022. Beginning February 19, 2022, eligible employees may take up to 80 hours of paid sick leave. This leave is retroactive to January 1, 2022. You can use up to 40 hours of leave for the following: (1) vaccination or vaccine-related symptoms; (2) caring for yourself; or (3) caring for a family member. You can use an additional 40 hours if you test positive for COVID-19, or are caring for a family member that tested positive for COVID-19. For more information, see this flyer on 2022 COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave in California.
  • New Hampshire’s paid family leave program may not begin in January of 2023. On March 16, the New Hampshire House voted to repeal the program, arguing it is no longer needed because private insurance companies are developing similar plans. The bill is now in front of the Senate.

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.                                                                                                                

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