If you are laid off from your job, you have options for health care insurance. Do the smart thing and don’t take the “Oh, I don’t need health insurance anyway” route and opt out of a policy all together. You never know when an illness or accident can strike, and medical debt is one of the quickest roads to bankruptcy. Besides, no insurance could mean paying a fine at tax time.
If you can get on your employed spouse’s group plan, that’s great. If not, you’ll need to shop around. Let’s take a look at your choices for health insurance when you lose your job.
In most states, when you are laid off by a company with 20 or more employees, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) allows you to stay on your former employer’s group health insurance plan, but you must pay the full price of the premiums. Typically, this coverage can last up to 18 months. COBRA coverage can be more expensive, though, so you may want to consider other options.
2. Affordable Care Act
The Health Insurance Marketplaces now available under the ACA, or Obamacare, will probably be less expensive than a COBRA policy. This is because qualified individuals can receive financial assistance in the form of a Health Insurance Premium Tax Credit. How much assistance you receive depends on number of family members to be insured and your income, which will be reduced during unemployment, of course. Assistance can be used to help pay your monthly premiums, or you can wait and receive the assistance at tax time. Either way, you’ll want to let your health care exchange know when your income improves so assistance can be adjusted accordingly. Shop your policy carefully and speak with an advisor. Go to www.healthcare.gov or call 1-800-318-2596 to find your state’s Marketplace.
Find out if your state has agreed to expand Medicaid benefits under Obamacare. If so, you may quality if you meet the income requirement. This map shows which states have expanded Medicaid as of July 2016.
4. Private Insurance
If you don’t want to take advantage of the tax credits through Obamacare, individual policies through private insurance may be available to you.
If your income is to high for Medicaid and private insurance is too expensive, look into coverage for your dependent children through the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP. Some, but not all, states require you to pay a monthly premium. Some services have copayments, but routine well-child doctor dental visits are free of charge.
To learn more see our information about health care options and quote comparisons.