How to Keep Health Insurance After a Layoff– If you’ve recently experienced a layoff or been furloughed, there’s no doubt that your mind is filled with various concerns. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the importance of healthcare has become even more evident.
In these uncertain times, having comprehensive health insurance not only safeguards your well-being but also provides a sense of security for your financial stability.
According to Healthcare Bluebook, a website focused on cost transparency, the average price for a 30-minute doctor visit is well over $200.1
Meanwhile, the expenses for a broken leg can reach up to $7,500, and a three-day hospital stay might cost around $30,000.2 Without sufficient coverage, these significant costs will fall squarely on your shoulders.
Whether you find yourself without a job or you’re a business owner concerned about the welfare of your furloughed employees, there are options available to ensure the continuity of health coverage. In the following paragraphs, we’ll explore the best solutions tailored to your specific needs.
How to Keep Health Insurance After a Layoff?
When faced with a job loss, you might come across COBRA, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. This federal law acts as a safety net, offering insurance coverage to families in such situations, it is an option on How to Keep Health Insurance After a Layoff.
To be eligible, you must already be enrolled in an employer-sponsored medical, dental, or vision plan, and your company should have a minimum of 20 employees. Typically, you have 60 days from the loss of coverage to enroll in COBRA, although some plans have extended this deadline due to the COVID-19 crisis.
COBRA can be a viable option if you have savings or an alternative source of income. The average cost for individual coverage is around $610 per month, while family coverage can reach $1,750 per month.3 (Actual costs may vary.)
Your employer might subsidize your premiums for a certain period, helping reduce your expenses. Alternatively, if you have a health savings account (HSA), health reimbursement arrangement (HRA), or individual retirement account (IRA), you may be able to use those funds to pay for your COBRA premiums.
To determine the specific cost of COBRA in your case, refer to your benefits information or reach out to the person responsible for handling benefits at your employer.
State governments offer Medicaid, a type of public health insurance, designed to provide free or low-cost medical coverage to families and individuals in needand it a good option on How to Keep Health Insurance After a Layoff.
Eligibility is based on your current monthly income after experiencing a layoff, and stimulus payments are not considered. Even if you don’t qualify due to income, your children and any pregnant women in your household may still be eligible for coverage.
Medicaid offers various benefits, which may vary from state to state, but typically include:
- Assistance in managing chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes.
- Access to common prescription medications at little to no cost.
- Mental health services such as therapy and substance abuse care.
- Free transportation to and from doctor visits.
Health Insurance Marketplace
For individuals with low income, the Health Insurance Marketplace at Healthcare.gov provides subsidized coverage options. Most people who don’t qualify for Medicaid can find suitable coverage there.
Many individuals pay no monthly premiums at all, while those who do pay an average of $87 per month (as of 2019).4 Keep in mind that the deadline for obtaining new coverage is usually within 60 days after your previous coverage ends.
If you’re 65 years old or above, you can access government-sponsored health coverage through Medicare. Medicare consists of different parts that offer various coverage options. “Original Medicare” covers hospitalization (Part A) and doctor fees (Part B), while prescription drug coverage is provided separately through Part D.
You’ll need to pay a monthly premium for Parts B and D based on your income. On average, Part B costs around $144 per month5 and Part D costs approximately $30 per month.6 You can apply for Medicare three months before turning 65 until three months after.
It’s crucial to familiarize yourself with Medicare deadlines and late penalties if you haven’t already. Waiting eight months or longer to apply for Medicare after losing employer-based coverage may result in a late enrollment penalty.
You can apply for Original Medicare (Parts A and B) online, by phone at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY: 1-800-325-0778), or in person at a U.S. Social Security Administration office. If you choose to visit in person, make sure to schedule an appointment first.
Another option is to purchase an all-in-one Medicare Advantage plan (Part C) through a private insurer, which includes medical and hospital coverage. Additionally, it may cover prescription drugs, dental care, vision care, fitness.
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Memberships, And Other Extras.
Medicare can be complex, which is why Aetna provides a free program called Medicare Transition Services. Knowledgeable agents can guide you through your healthcare options, help you avoid penalties, and assess whether Medicare is the best fit for your needs. Simply call 1-888-675-0447 (TTY: 711) for assistance.
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Join a Family Member’s Plan
Losing your employer-sponsored health plan is considered a “qualifying life event” in the insurance world. This means that a family member can add you to their health plan outside of the regular enrollment season.
If you’re under the age of 26, joining your parents’ plan might be the most suitable choice. Individuals who are over 26 and married or in a domestic partnership should inquire about joining their partner’s plan. In either case, reach out to the plan holder’s HR department to gather more information.
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You may have come across short-term limited duration (STLD) insurance policies. These policies, which are not renewable, cater to individuals experiencing a temporary gap in health coverage, such as those who have been displaced from their jobs.
Short-term plans are more affordable compared to comprehensive coverage, making them appear appealing. However, it’s essential to be aware that such plans do not provide sufficient coverage, as cautioned by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on healthcare issues.7
For instance, short-term health plans typically exclude coverage for pre-existing conditions. Moreover, unlike comprehensive plans found in the Health Insurance Marketplace, short-term plans are not obligated to cover preventive care, prescription drugs, mental health care, and maternity benefits.
When considering a short-term or any other health plan that seems too good to be true, carefully review the fine print. Stay cautious of imposter websites selling inexpensive yet inadequate coverage. While shopping for a health plan, websites ending with “.gov” are generally trustworthy.