Health Insurance Tips for Unemployed
We all have felt the effects of today’s tough economy in some way or another. Whether you lost your job or you know someone who has, one of the most pressing concerns aside from finding employment is maintaining previous benefits for you or your family. A study published in the Journal of Demography last year found that job loss has adverse effects on one’s health and that even those who were subsequently reemployed faced a higher risk of developing new health conditions. Factor that into the current unemployment in the US, and it is evident that a significant segment of the population is facing both unemployment and health problems. The takeaway message here is that you are not alone. If it is your first time shopping for an individual plan, the number of health plan options, terms, carriers, and premiums can seem overwhelming. It is where insure.com can help with some useful tips:
Those who lost jobs (did not quit) may be eligible for an insurance subsidy
A form of “continuation coverage,” COBRA is a federal law that can extend insurance for you and your family past the point at which you would otherwise lose coverage. Benefits could last anywhere from 18 to 36 months.
If you recently lost employer-provided health insurance, you could be eligible for a 65% decrease of your COBRA premium for up to 15 months. Learn more about COBRA Continuation Coverage Assistance under ARRA.
Those unemployed after May 31, 2010, are disqualified from benefits
But try not to lapse in coverage! This gap could work against you when applying for insurance plans in the future (especially if one or more family members have pre-existing conditions).
Contact an insurance broker for help in finding an affordable plan
If you don’t qualify for COBRA or other aid, don’t worry. Cobra is often more expensive than individual health insurance, particularly for the young, who currently face an especially high unemployment rate. So, whether you qualify for COBRA, don’t qualify, or find it too expensive, you should check prices of individual plans on insure.com.
Consider choosing a high deductible health plan, which tends to be much cheaper because some cover a variety of preventative care options that are available before you meet the first deductible.
(Ex) Using insure.com, a male (age 38) living in California can buy a high deductible health plan for a premium of just $69.00/month!
Research eligibility for government-sponsored plans
Medicaid: a program operated by each state to provide health insurance for people with limited incomes, including families, the elderly, and people with disabilities.
CHIP: Children’s Health Insurance Program provides low-cost insurance coverage for children in families who earn too much to meet the requirement for Medicaid, but not enough to buy insurance independently. Eligibility and rules vary by state, so check to see if your family is eligible.
If you’re under 26, you can get coverage under your parent’s policy
The Affordable Care Act changed the law so that children, who would have previously grown out of their parent’s employer-provided coverage, can now stay covered until age 26. This goes into effect beginning September 2010.
Distribute one family plan into individual plans
Better than a whole family without any coverage, you can try splitting coverage into individual plans for each member. The downside is that you may have to pay higher deductibles and copays, as well as lower claim limits.
If you are denied, consider a high-risk pool plan
Carriers in most states can deny you, charge higher premiums, or limit coverage if you have a preexisting condition. However, check with the State Department of Health Insurance if you live in one of the few states that are “guaranteed issue,” meaning insurers cannot deny you due to a health condition.
PCIP: Starting this summer, if you have been uninsured for 6 months and have a preexisting condition, you may be able to get insured under the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan until 2014, when health insurance carriers can no longer deny anyone with a preexisting condition. Use this map to see how PCIP works in your state.