Losing employment can be a very scary thing, even more so when you rely on employment for insurance coverage. If you’ve lost health insurance there may be options for short or long term coverage. You may be able to pursue one of the following possibilities:
- Joining a family member’s plan
- Participating in Cobra
- Enrolling in Medicaid
- Purchasing an insurance plan through the marketplace during open enrollment or your special enrollment period
- Purchasing short term insurance
There are many avenues available to you, but some have a time limit. Therefore, it is important to move quickly and think ahead. However, you don’t want to end up roped into a plan without adequate coverage or one that is too expensive. For these reasons, we highly encourage you to work with a licensed broker.
Join a Family Member’s Plan
If you’ve lost health insurance due to a change in employment, one of the easiest options is joining a family member’s plan. Generally speaking, you are able to enroll in your employer’s group plan during the following times:
- Initial time of hire
- Annual open enrollment period
- Qualifying life event (marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, etc…)
If you lose your coverage, you may be able to join your spouse’s plan within a certain period of time. This option also applies if you are under 26 and wish to rejoin your parent’s insurance plan. Make sure to do your research because (believe it or not) it may not be the best financial option available to you dependent upon the cost of your family’s plan.
Make Use of COBRA
You’ve probably heard the term COBRA bandied about quite a bit. However, you may be unsure exactly what it is and if you are eligible. If you’d like to learn all about COBRA, make sure to watch this helpful video. COBRA is a way for you to keep your lost health insurance (the exact same coverage) even after you are no longer working for your employer.
If you have been enrolled in any type of insurance through your employer, you are most likely familiar with group health insurance. Companies contribute to a portion of the premium and the remainder is withdrawn from your paycheck. Your employer contributes a minimum of 50% towards your health insurance premium and you are responsible for the remaining percentage. With COBRA you are responsible for both your portion and your employer’s portion (plus a 2% administration fee). This can make COBRA a financial hardship for many. However knowing that your coverage will not change certainly provides peace of mind.
If your employer meets certain criteria, you will have a period of 60 days to enroll in COBRA. You may be covered for a period of 18 or 36 months dependent upon your specific circumstances. You can cancel at any time, but cancellation of COBRA is not considered a qualifying event for a special enrollment period. The exception is, of course, if your employer goes out of business and is no longer able to offer insurance to any employees. Should that happen, you would enter a special enrollment period which would make you eligible for additional options.
You May Be Eligible for Medicaid If You’ve Lost Health Insurance
If by loss of employment and therefore loss of income, your income drops below a certain level, you may be eligible for Medicaid. Eligibility for Medicaid is dependent on the federal poverty guide, household size, and state. Medicaid can help to provide free or low cost healthcare options to those in need. Also, you can apply at any time. Unlike other options, there are no windows to take into consideration. You can contact your state’s Medicaid office or check your eligibility with healthcare.gov.
This may also be a good option for you if you are pregnant and fall below a certain income level. Additionally, the CHIP program exists to help provide medical and dental coverage to children up to 19 years of age. You can find out more info about CHIP by calling 1-800-318-2596 or 1-855-889-4325 for TTY users. You can also logon to healthcare.gov.
For some, Medicaid really is the only option to consider due to finances. If you do not meet the income requirements, you may still be able to apply for a Medicaid. A final note on Medicaid: if you should happen to be denied Medicaid, that provides you an additional special enrollment period to purchase a Marketplace plan.
Lost Health Insurance & Eligibility for a Special Enrollment Period in the Marketplace
If you’ve lost your health insurance (due to loss of employment), you are eligible for a special enrollment period with the Marketplace. This is part of the Affordable Care Act. You can logon to healthcare.gov to explore your options. And there will be many! You have a period of 60 days to enroll in a plan through the marketplace. Therefore, it is very important that you move quickly. Again, you do not want to rush into an uneducated decision. Purchasing a plan with too little coverage or one that is too expensive is far from ideal. Should you need any help, we encourage you to work with a licensed broker.
- Your special enrollment period is 60 days from the date of the qualifying event
- You may qualify for a government subsidy based on your income. This is basically a tax refund upfront. If you make too much money, you may have to pay this subsidy back in taxes.
You also have options to sign up outside the marketplace. Many carriers offer plans both on and off the marketplace. Regardless, if you choose to go this route, you are best served contacting a broker to help walk you through it.
Enroll in Short Term Insurance Anytime!
The final option we’re going to discuss is short term insurance. These plans are not offered in all states and are not available for all people. For example, you can be disqualified if you have certain pre-existing conditions. Short term plans are available for up to 3-years in many states and typically offer national PPO networks. Today’s short term plans have evolved from years prior. You can obtain low deductible plans with coverage for preventive care, doctor copays, prescription coverage and more! While short term plans do not cover pre-existing conditions in the first year, multi year short term plans will provide coverage after that; something to consider when comparing your options.
Losing employment can be nerve wracking enough, without having to worry about lost health insurance. Please feel free to give us a call so that we can walk you through all of your available options. You can reach us at iHealthBrokers at (888) 918-0518 or schedule a call at your earliest convenience. There is no charge for our services and we are here to help.