Obtaining Health Insurance After A Job Loss
A sense of distress may be the first feeling that you experience after a job loss. You may worry about making ends meet, finding a new job and remaining insured. While all of these fears are perfectly normal, you should take proactive steps to alleviate these issues.
Specifically, there are many things you can do to obtain new health coverage or maintain your current health insurance. This will protect you and your family if you get sick, need medication or have to visit the doctor while unemployed.
Though it is perfectly natural to worry about finding adequate insurance after a job loss, there are many options available. For example:
- Obtaining coverage from your spouse or domestic partner’s employer. If your spouse or domestic partner’s insurance plan is open to family members, you may be able to join now that you no longer have insurance through your employer. Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), you have 30 days from the time that your former employer stops paying for your insurance to enroll in your spouse or domestic partner’s plan. This rule stands even if your loss of coverage doesn’t occur during an open enrollment period.
- Obtaining Individual Health Coverage. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), you can enroll in an individual policy during a special enrollment period if you lose your job-based coverage outside of the normal open enrollment period. You may be eligible for subsidies for reduced premiums, and you could possibly qualify for lower out-of-pocket costs. A Caravus Individual Market consultant can help with guiding you in the right direction for plan selection based on your coverage needs. To obtain the right coverage for you and your family, ask the following questions when shopping around:
- What will my premiums cost based on my age and health risks?
- What will my deductible be?
- What are the copayment amounts and out-of-pocket expenses?
- What specific benefits are covered under the plan?
- What prescription drugs are covered under the plan?
- Will I have to change my health care providers, or use providers that are only in certain networks?
- Continuing your current coverage through COBRA. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives you the right to remain on the health plan that you had with your former employer (COBRA might not always apply if your employer had fewer than 20 employees, or if your employer went out of business). If you are eligible for COBRA benefits, you will receive notice from your former employer, and can enroll within 60 days after receiving the notice.
- COBRA generally guarantees coverage for 18 months but may be longer depending on your circumstances.
- Each family member can make a different COBRA election, even if your entire family was once covered under your employer’s health plan. Or, your child(ren) may elect COBRA on your plan and you may find coverage elsewhere.
- You are responsible for paying the full COBRA premiums, which includes the amount you used to pay while employed, the amount paid by your former employer, and an administrative fee.
- Determining if you or any of your family members are eligible for Medicaid, The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), other state programs or VA coverage. Medicaid is available for low-income individuals and children, parents with dependent children, permanently disabled individuals or those over 65. Eligibility varies from state to state.