Being Out of Work Doesn’t Mean You’re Out of Luck with Health Insurance Coverage
In an era when switching jobs – whether voluntarily or otherwise – is common, people often find themselves needing short-term health insurance when between jobs. Fortunately, multiple options are available to individuals in the middle of a career transition who need coverage until their new employer-provided plan kicks in.
Here are the three primary ways you can get temporary health insurance coverage when between jobs.
COBRA Continuation Coverage
If you had employer-provided health insurance coverage in the position you are leaving, and your employer had 20 or more employees, you likely have the right to stay on your employer’s plan for several months if you so choose.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) gives employees and their families who lose their health benefits the opportunity to continue group health benefits under certain circumstances, including voluntary or involuntary job loss and transition between jobs.
COBRA continuation coverage, as it is called, allows you to avail yourself of the same coverage and benefits you had while employed. Your employer has an obligation to notify you of your right to continuation coverage, and you have a limited period within which to elect or decline that coverage.
You are entitled to up to 18 months of COBRA continuation coverage after termination of employment. If you or your dependent chooses COBRA continuation coverage, you can terminate that coverage concurrent with the date coverage starts under your new employer’s plan.
If you consider electing COBRA coverage, be ready for some sticker shock. Your employer paid a percentage of your monthly premium while you were employed, but they are under no obligation to do so at the end of your tenure. That means you will be responsible for paying the entire cost of your coverage, which will be significantly more than what you paid before. COBRA is an expensive way to get short-term health insurance when between jobs.
Purchasing Coverage Through the Health Insurance Marketplace (Healthcare.gov)
Losing your employer-based coverage allows you to enroll in an individual or family plan through the “Affordable Care Act” (ACA) Marketplace, aka Obamacare, outside of the limited Open Enrollment Period. Your loss of employer provided insurance coverage is a “Qualifying Life Event” which makes you eligible for a Special Enrollment Period that lasts from 60 days before the loss of your job to 60 days after. You must select and enroll in a plan during that 120-day window of time.
The ACA is the name for the comprehensive federal health care reform law and its amendments. The law addresses health insurance coverage, health care costs, and preventive care.
When you choose ACA health coverage, you may be eligible for a tax credit that lowers your monthly premiums and other out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles, coinsurance, and copayments.
However, that lower cost might mean that the coverage you purchase through the ACA Marketplace may not offer all of the benefits that your old group coverage did.
Additionally, the financial impact from the loss of your job may qualify you and your family for low-cost or even free coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). You can learn whether you qualify on the Marketplace website and apply for and enroll in Medicaid or CHIP coverage anytime. This can be a great way to obtain short-term health insurance when between jobs.
Short-Term Coverage from Private Insurers
Many health insurance companies offer short-term private health plans in which you can enroll at any time, either directly or through brokers, agents, or online health insurance sellers.
Though these private plans may be more affordable than ACA qualifying plans, they may not necessarily meet all of the basic coverage requirements of Obamacare, such as coverage for pre-existing conditions, preventative care, and mental health services.
Here is another fact to consider when purchasing temporary health insurance outside the Marketplace, whether during Open Enrollment or not. In that case, you can’t receive premium tax credits or other savings based on your available income for coverage purchased through the Marketplace.
Need Short-Term Health Insurance When Between Jobs? Arizona Health Insurance Experts Can Help
Suppose a career transition is causing you concern about how to obtain health insurance when between jobs. In that case, Arizona Health Insurance Experts can help by connecting you with the state’s most extensive collection of independent health insurance brokers who can take care of the hassle of finding and enrolling in health insurance plans in Arizona.
Our team of licensed brokers will deliver the exceptional customer experience you deserve and the short-term health insurance coverage you need. Find a broker near you today.