This past year a record number of Americans quit their jobs. This labor phenomenon referred to as The Great Resignation involves more than 47 million workers quitting their jobs voluntarily, with more expected to continue the trend. Though reasons for leaving differed, most workers reported their main driving factor for quitting was low pay, poor benefits, and poor company culture. What many don’t consider when leaving a job is the health insurance they may be leaving behind. If you lose the health insurance that was being supplied through your company, there are a few options to purchase your own plan. Understanding your options for health insurance can help you avoid marketplace confusion or risking having no coverage.
Extend Your Coverage Through COBRA
COBRA, short for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation, is a coverage continuation program mandated through federal law for companies with over 50 employees. COBRA allows you to extend your job’s health insurance for 18-36 months depending on your eligibility. In most cases, you have 60 days to enroll in your COBRA plan to start, and coverage can be backdated to the last day of employment. This type of coverage extension is best for short-term solutions if you’re looking to avoid a gap in coverage during temporary unemployment. Spouses and dependent children will also be under the plan.
COBRA plans must be paid in full, and premiums will be the full cost of the plan with zero contribution from the providing employer. The monthly cost during employment likely had a generous employer contribution, so the cost of COBRA could come as a surprise. Though the cost may not be ideal for those coming out of an employee-sponsored plan, COBRA is a perfect option for keeping your coverage while you explore new plans. At the time of exit, your company will provide you with paperwork in order to start your coverage and once the full premium is paid, you will have the extension of benefits.
Purchase Insurance on the Marketplace
If you recently quit your job or were let go from your job, you are eligible to purchase an insurance plan even if it's outside of the open enrollment period. Loss of employment falls under the list of qualifying events that allow individuals to be eligible for purchase outside of the normal time frame. It can take a few weeks to have an application approved and secure coverage, so it's best to apply immediately after your loss of employment. For those using the COBRA plan, you can still apply to the marketplace once the extension runs out.
The healthcare insurance marketplace is notoriously confusing to navigate, but there are options for all coverage needs and budgets. The plans on the marketplace will cover essential doctor visits, medications, emergency coverage, hospitalizations, and more. You can apply for a Marketplace plan online, through the mail, or by phone. Additionally, there are trained assistants who can guide those who need extra accommodation.
Apply for Medicaid
Low-income families or individuals may qualify for free or low-cost coverage through state-provided Medicaid. Medicaid provides essential coverage for Medicaid provides health coverage for low-income families and children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Medicaid coverage may vary from state to state, and you can find out online what your state covers and whether or not you are eligible.
Medicaid does not cover all low-income single adults, so it's important to check online to find your eligibility. In some cases, Medicaid will require a small copay or a small premium for coverage while for others, there is no cost for coverage. Medicaid will cover the essential health needs just like any other insurance plan. Hospital visits, physicals, emergency care, pregnancy care, vaccines, as well as some dental and vision will be covered. For more information on your state's Medicaid, visit the official Medicaid website.
Apply for Unemployment
If you were let go or fired from your job, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. With unemployment, you will be eligible for Medicaid or other low-cost programs through your unemployment status. Some states have specific coverage plans for those on unemployment that cover all major health needs at no cost to the individual. Under the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, if you are currently unemployed or received unemployment in the past year, you may be eligible for free healthcare and or subsidized coverage.
This zero-cost coverage is a result of a bill passed by Joe Biden in 2021 under the American Rescue Plan and Affordable Care Act. This coverage can be secured and verified through the marketplace online portal. Coverage may vary by state.
What if I’m Self Employed?
If you’re one of many leaving your job to start a business or work on a freelance basis, you can still secure coverage through the marketplace. Filling out an application with an estimate of your salary will provide you with the best plan to fit your new employment status. Depending on the type of work you are doing, there are group coverage plans you can join based on your occupation and income. These plans typically have anywhere from 50-to 100 individuals funding the premium, and that money will go to coverage in the event of a claim. These are best for new small businesses or businesses with few employees.
Ask Our Experts
Curious about which healthcare plan is best suited for your business? Our Insurance Agents and Consultants can help you figure out the best plan for your business if you’re experiencing a change. We understand the complexities of healthcare, especially for those trying to navigate small business insurance and other types of coverage. For more information on our services, visit our website or contact one of our brokers today.