YOU ASK:

What happens to your medical insurance if you lose your job?

WE ANSWER:

You don't have to worry about losing your medical insurance if you lose your job. You will get to keep your medical insurance under COBRA for as long as 36 months or until something happens where you are no longer qualified to keep the plan.

Some of these qualifying events include:

  • Getting hired by an employer that offers medical insurance
  • Finding insurance through the individual market
  • Your insurance premiums are not paid on time.

Your employer may also offer all or a portion of your medical insurance as part of your termination or severance package. You can also look into your spouse's coverage to see whether you qualify as a dependent.

The important thing is that, as much as you can, try to keep your medical insurance. You may get sick or be in an accident and that may make your problem of unemployment worse. This may be hard since it is more expensive to maintain COBRA not that you are unemployed. You will have to pay both your share of the premiums, as well as your employer's share of the premiums and an additional fee for the administrative expenses of COBRA.

Another thing you can do is to also look into the programs that are provided by your union, as well as the state or insurer, to see if there is the possibility of getting free or cheaper insurance.

If your COBRA coverage expires and you still don't have alternative coverage, you can also look into buying an individual plan. With the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996), you can get individual coverage without having to deal with the issue of pre-existing conditions.

Another option would be to look into health insurance coverage provided by your employees' union or social group (such as the Rotary). These often provide coverage for those who lost their jobs. Yet another option would be to look into whether you are eligible for public insurance such as Medicare.

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