Today’s difficult economic times are not likely to measurably improve in the next year. And many of those who are lucky enough to still have jobs are worried about what the future may bring. The potential for losing a job is bad enough, but losing health care benefits that go along with it makes the situation even worse. For most people, there are a variety of options available when unemployment becomes a reality.
The most commonly known option is COBRA, which stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. Cobra went into effect in 1986, and basically it requires your former employer’s insurance carrier to allow you to purchase out of your own pocket, your health benefits for an additional 18 months. If your employer was paying part of your premium, you’ll be required to pay the entire amount, and that could potentially cause your insurance cost to increase.
Another option is what is known as temporary health insurance. This is designed specifically for short lapses of health care coverage while you’re between jobs and not covered by an employer’s plan. Policies frequently are written for a period of six months, and the cost is usually very reasonable. This option often works out to be less expensive than a COBRA plan, since many large companies pay a significant part of the employee’s health premium.
There is a third option to consider, depending on your financial and family situations and the region of the country in which you live. That is Medicaid, or some sort of low cost insurance plan offered by your state. In order to meet the demands of a growing uninsured working population, many states are offering sliding scale insurance coverage for low to middle income families who do not have any insurance, and sometimes if you have kids, they may be eligible for free insurance through the state. Most of this information can be accessed by contacting the Social Services organization in your area. They should be able to tell you what if any health insurance programs you may be eligible for.
Keeping your family insured through tough times is important. And being informed about your options in advance can take away the stress you’ll likely be under when the time comes. Looking into what’s available in advance can make a big difference.