The COVID-19 pandemic has swept across the world and left much carnage in its wake. In addition to the toll on human lives, it’s also put millions of people out of work.
Laid Off? Need New Insurance Plan
Because most Americans get their health insurance through their employer, this has been especially devastating for families that have experienced layoffs. If you’re suddenly without a job, here are some of the avenues available to find a new insurance plan for your family.
Know Your Rights Through COBRA
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, commonly known as COBRA, offers health insurance protections for employees who have recently lost their jobs. You may be eligible to extend coverage under your current employer-provided plan for up to eighteen months.
The drawback is that you will be responsible for the full premium, which can make this option unaffordable for some.
Still, if your layoff is temporary, it may be worth it to continue with your current insurance until you’re able to go back to work. This minimizes disruptions to your care and allows you to keep your current plan over a temporary period of unemployment.
Consult An Insurance Agent
Another step you can take is to contact an insurance agent. Health insurance is one of the most complicated and confusing types of insurance, so you may benefit from speaking to a professional about your options.
A good health insurance agent will listen carefully to your situation and answer your questions. They will be knowledgeable about the various health insurance options available for laid-off workers and guide you in choosing a plan that meets your budget and your needs.
Look Through Major Providers
Your next option should be to look at plans offered by major health insurance providers in your area. Depending on your income you may be able to buy family health insurance plans directly through them.
Research which providers offer plans in your state, as not every major company offers coverage everywhere. Premiums and plans offered will also vary based on your ZIP code.
Look For a New Insurance Plans
The Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010 with the intention of providing health insurance options for those who don’t receive coverage through an employer. With that regulation intact, If you’re no longer being offered insurance through your employer, you can go onto the Public Exchange and apply for coverage there.
Typically, you’re not allowed to enroll in a plan outside of the open enrollment period later in the year but losing a job that was providing insurance counts as a qualifying exception. All you have to do is go to the federal site or the site of your state’s exchange and follow the directions to apply.
Financial help in paying for a plan is dependent on income, with lower-income families being offered more.
Consider A Short-Term Plan
Short-term health insurance plans are another option to tide you over until you can find another job or resume work at your old one. They are available for up to a year with the option to extend your plan twice. These plans are not available in all states, with some banning them outright and others placing extra restrictions on them.
It needs to be noted that these plans are not a long-term solution. They may be cheaper than other options but they don’t cover many services required by the Affordable Care Act. They may also deny coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Look At Comparison Sites
There are several reputable websites that allow you to compare health insurance plans offered by a variety of large and small providers. This can help you better understand the differences between various plans so you can choose the one that best meets your coverage needs.
These comparison sites may also make you aware of smaller health insurance companies that may offer you a better deal. Be sure to read the fine print and understand any limitations before making your choice.
Are You Eligible For Medicare?
If you’re old enough to be eligible for Medicare, the federally-provided health insurance for senior citizens, you may want to simply consider signing up for it earlier than you had planned. Everyone over 65 automatically qualifies.
The drawback to Medicare is that it tends to cover individuals rather than families. However, this will depend on the age and health status of your dependents. If you are eligible for Medicare, investigate your options for covering the rest of your family.
What About Medicaid?
If your income was small and has only gotten smaller, or if you qualify in other ways, you may be eligible for your state’s Medicaid program. Medicaid is a program jointly run through the federal government and the state governments that provides health coverage to those with low incomes.
You can easily apply for Medicaid through your state. Some states have expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act to all under a certain income threshold, while others only offer coverage if you meet certain criteria such as having a disability.
Find the Best Family Plan for You
Now that you have all the resources you need to get started, do your research to find the best family insurance plan for you. Take the time to research the different plans before making a decision to ensure you get the coverage you need for each individual in your household.