How to Get Health Insurance when Laid Off
You and your family need medical coverage regardless of your employment status, but maintaining insurance if you're laid off isn't easy to do (at least in the US). Thanks to Medicaid expansion and the healthcare exchanges provided by the Affordable Care Act, there are more ways to keep insured today than ever. Unfortunately, even the best options aren't great options, but with a bit of diligence, you can learn how to make the best of a bad situation.
Keeping Your Insurance through COBRA
See that you aren’t getting cut off early.You are always entitled to employer sponsored coverage for as long as you’re paid up. A lot of employers will automatically cut off an employee’s insurance whenever they’re laid off or fired. Sometimes this is legitimate, but not always.
- For example, say your insurance costs are automatically deducted from your pay. If you get paid at the beginning of each month and you get laid off on the 5th, you should still be covered until the end of that month, because the deduction for that pay period has already been made.
Make sure you qualify.Coverage through the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows you to pay for the entire cost of your health insurance at the employer’s group rate if you lose your job. COBRA is available to the majority of employees who are laid off or fired, but not all of them. You are eligible for coverage if you meet one of the following conditions:
- You were laid off.
- You quit your job.
- Your hours were reduced below the qualifying threshold for health insurance.
- You were fired for reasons other than gross misconduct. If you were caught stealing, vandalizing property, or sexually harassed another employee, you are probably ineligible for COBRA.
Talk to your plan administrator.If you get laid off, your health plan administrator is required to contact you within a few days to explain your options under COBRA. You yourself have sixty days from the date of notice to choose coverage under COBRA, and you are eligible for coverage for eighteen months from the date of termination.
- Your plan administrator will explain any special procedures, but it’s usually a simple process. You call them or return their mailed notice confirming you do want COBRA coverage, and you pay the premium within 45 days.
- Coverage under COBRA is usually very expensive when compared to employer sponsored coverage. For example, if it was 0 a month for your employer sponsored insurance, it would easily be 0 to pay for through COBRA. Nonetheless, it is difficult to find equivalent coverage for less on the private market, so it can be a good deal.
Getting Insurance through a Health Exchange
Gather your tax information.The cost of insurance purchased through the Federal or state exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is subsidized for many buyers. Unfortunately, the calculation of the subsidy for each individual is based on yearly and not monthly income, so even if you have no income as a result of your layoff, your subsidy will be based on the previous year’s tax information.
- This includes W-2s or income tax returns.
- Tax information is likely the only type of personal information you won’t know off the top of your head that you'll need to sign up.
Estimate your medical costs for the year.Add up the costs of any ongoing care for the previous year. This should include the costs of prescription drugs and care for any chronic conditions, as well as any predictable ailments, such as the flu. This should at least give you a baseline dollar amount for the amount of coverage you’ll need.
- Don’t forget to factor in the costs of people covered on your health plan as well as costs for vision and dental care.
Go to healthcare.gov or call the helpline.Once you’ve gathered your tax information, go to healthcare.gov and log on (or create a new account). You’ll need to provide information about the size of your household, where you live, your identifying information, and your income.
- If you prefer, you can call 1-800-318-2596 instead, and they will walk you through the process.
- Once you’ve provided this information, the exchange should pull up a list of plans for which you are eligible and the post-subsidy premium.
Be mindful of network size.Since all of the plans on the exchanges cover similar events, one of the primary ways they influence costs are by shrinking the size of your network. While that may of may not be important to you, it’s something you should be aware of when choosing a plan.
- As of the open enrollment period beginning in fall of 2019, the network size of the various plans will be clearly labeled. Until then, check with the insurer or the helpline directly.
- HMOs usually have lower premiums and smaller networks. PPOs have higher premiums and larger networks.
Consider the plans.Plans under the healthcare exchanges are graded on a scale ranging from Platinum to Bronze. Bronze plans have the highest deductibles and Platinum plans have the highest premiums and the lowest deductibles.
- A Platinum plan pays 90% of the costs of care.
- Gold plans pay 80% of the costs of care.
- Silver plans pay 70% of the costs of care. Additionally, if you fall in the appropriate income brackets, you can receive extra discounts if you choose a Silver Plan. See if you qualify at .
- Bronze plans pay 60% of costs.
Qualifying for Medicaid
See if you qualify for medicaid in your state.If you live in a state which has expanded coverage under the ACA and you make less than 138% of the federal poverty level, you are eligible for Medicaid. If your state has not expanded coverage, it will be much more difficult to gain coverage under Medicaid. Determine your eligibility at
- If you have children that are also in need of medical coverage, look into the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP is available for children in families that earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid. In some cases, it can also cover pregnant women.
Check to see when you can enroll.You may qualify for a special enrollment period of you have experienced certain major life events such as losing employer health coverage, getting married, or having a baby. Otherwise, you must wait for the open enrollment period, which typically runs from November to December in the preceding year.
Apply for Medicaid through the Health Insurance Marketplace.If you qualify for Medicaid, you can apply directly through the Health Insurance Marketplace. The Marketplace will send your information to your state Medicaid agency, who will contact you about your enrollment. Apply through the Marketplace online by creating a www.healthcare.gov account.
- Applying through the Health Insurance Marketplace is also the easiest way to apply for CHIP.
Apply for Medicaid from your state agency.If you do not want to apply through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you can also apply for Medicaid directly through your state's Medicaid agency. Depending upon your state, you may be able to do so online, over the phone, or in person.
Exploring Other Options
Look into getting added onto your spouse’s plan.If your spouse has coverage, getting added onto their coverage might be a great option. As a matter of fact, if you or your spouse loses coverage, there is a mandatory enrollment period allowing one partner to be added onto the other’s coverage.
- Contact your spouse's HR department or health insurance provider to see what steps are necessary to add people to an existing plan. You can also check the insurance provider's website for information, as well.
- If your spouse has Medicaid or insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you must enroll during the open enrollment period or qualify for a special enrollment.
Find a private insurer.Although this is likely the most expensive option, it might be your only option if you don’t qualify for a subsidy. The easiest option for going about this might be to contact a broker, as the price from a broker will be the same as the price directly from the insurer.
Use walk-in clinics and urgent care clinics when you are uninsured.The process of getting health insurance after you have been laid off may result in some gaps in coverage while you enroll in your new plan. If you have any medical problems during that time, look into nearby walk-in clinics. These are clinics are staffed by certified practitioners and are typically more affordable than paying cash for a doctor's visit. If you have a more severe problem that requires seeing a doctor, try an urgent care clinic.
- Urgent care clinics generally deal with medical problems that need a doctor but are not emergency situations. They are cheaper and typically more attentive than an emergency room for non life-threatening conditions.
- Walk-in clinics can be found in many pharmacies and grocery stores. These clinics are ideal for common illnesses such as colds and the flu, as well as strep throat, and urinary tract infections. They will also provide common vaccines, such as those for the flu.
Video: How Long Do You Have Health Insurance After Termination?
How to Give a Small Dog a Bath
Guess FallWinter 2012-2013 Accessories Campaign
Camila Mendes Opens Up About Struggling With Bulimia in New Interview
How to Convince Your Parents to Let You Go on a Trip Without Them
The Incredible Healthy Reasons To Book A Luxury Holiday Today
The Right Way To Poach An Egg
18 Tips To Control Incontinence
Teetotaler Big B has liver trouble
Sunscreen Application Tips
How to Treat Meningitis (Spinal Meningitis)
What That One Thing That Always Causes Fights Says About Your Relationship
How to Be Irresistible to Men
How to See Life Through the Eyes of an Artist
Rihanna Teases Savage x Fenty Lingerie Brand
12 Best Benefits Of Lemon Ginger Tea For Health, Skin, And Hair