The most important message to take from this article is to continue health coverage for you and your family after you are laid off. A number of options are discussed to help you decide what works for you.
If you were insured through your employer, you can continue that coverage under a federal law called the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 or COBRA. Most companies don’t subsidize premiums for COBRA participants, so you end up paying your cost and the company’s plus a small administrative fee. As a result, your monthly payments significantly increase, sometimes doubling or tripling. You have 60 days after your job ends to sign up before the option for COBRA disappears.
If you’re older or suffer from serious medical issues, COBRA may be your best alternative. But in any case, it’s a good idea to see if you can find good coverage elsewhere at a lower cost. If your spouse has health coverage through his/her employer, find out if you can join. Job loss is considered a qualifying event that allows you to be added even if the open enrollment process has ended as long as you do so within a specified timeframe.
If you decide to look into securing an individual policy, bear in mind that such plans usually require a medical exam to join. If you don’t pass the physical with flying colors, the policy could be very expensive or you might be found ineligible.
Because group plans are usually more affordable, another idea is to check out additional group health insurance options.If you belong to any professional or fraternal organizations, check to see if they offer a group health plan.
If you have children who live in Illinois, they may qualify for coverage under the All Kids Healthcare program. The All Kids program offers qualifying children age 18 and younger comprehensive healthcare (e.g., doctors visits, hospital stays, prescription drugs, vision care, dental care and medical devices). Although some families pay monthly premiums for coverage, the rates for middle-income families are significantly lower than they are on the private market. Currently more than 1.6 million Illinois children are enrolled in All Kids. If you are struggling to find affordable health care coverage, All Kids may be the answer. For more information about this terrific program go to the All Kids website.
One final tip: if you are still working but think you are about to be laid off, get a physical before you lose your job. Assuming you’re healthy, you can use this information to show you’re a good health insurance risk when the time comes for you to find coverage on your own.
The next article in the job loss series discusses unemployment benefits.