Finding Health Insurance When Unemployed
You've just lost your job and are unsure what insurance coverage is available. First, take a moment to reassess. Safe to say, you are probably juggling many emotions right now, which isn't good for layoff anxiety. Your mental health is important, so allow yourself time to process.
But while you are working on that, there is another step you can utilize to take back some control - and that's making sure you have the right health coverage. You may not realize it, but you have options. More than you realize. So, let's discuss how you can get affordable health coverage when you're between jobs and unsure where to start.
Out-of-Work Insurance Options
Primary Care Membership Plans
Primary care membership plans are a type of healthcare service where patients pay a monthly or annual fee to a primary care provider in exchange for comprehensive primary care services. These plans typically offer more personalized and convenient care than traditional fee-for-service models, focusing on preventive care and early detection of health issues.
Under a primary care membership plan, patients typically have access to a primary care provider they can see as often as needed without additional copays or fees. Providers may include family physicians, internists, pediatricians, or other healthcare professionals.
Some key features include:
Preventive care: Primary care membership plans often include preventive care services like annual physical exams, health screenings, and immunizations.
Comprehensive care: Primary care providers in these plans typically offer services beyond primary care, including coordination of specialist care, management of chronic conditions, and mental health services.
Convenience: Patients in these plans often have more convenient access to care, with longer appointment times, same-day or next-day appointments, and virtual or telehealth visits.
Cost savings: Primary care membership plans can be cost-effective for patients who frequently utilize healthcare services. They may pay a fixed monthly fee rather than incurring additional copays or deductibles.
However, primary care membership plans may not suit everyone, as they do not typically cover hospitalization, emergency care, or specialist services. Patients with pre-existing health conditions or complex medical needs may also require additional care not covered under a primary care membership plan.
High-Deductible Health Plans
A high deductible health plan (HDHP) is a type of health insurance plan with a higher deductible and lower monthly premiums than traditional health insurance plans.
With an HDHP, you are responsible for paying your healthcare expenses until you reach your deductible, which can be several thousand dollars. After you reach your deductible, your insurance coverage kicks in, and you typically pay a smaller portion of the costs through coinsurance or copayments.
Some key features include:
Lower monthly premiums: HDHPs often have lower monthly premiums than traditional health insurance plans.
Higher deductibles: HDHPs come with higher deductibles than traditional health insurance plans. This means you will be responsible for paying more healthcare expenses out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in.
Health savings account (HSA): Many HDHPs are eligible for a health savings account (HSA). An HSA is a tax-advantaged account that allows you to save money for medical expenses. Contributions to an HSA are tax-deductible, and funds can be withdrawn tax-free to pay for qualified medical expenses.
HDHPs can be a good option for people who are generally healthy and don't anticipate needing many healthcare services in the coming year. They can also be a good option for people who want to take advantage of the tax benefits of an HSA.
But this plan is not the best choice if you have a chronic condition (or anticipate needing a lot of medical care). Before your insurance coverage kicks in, you could be on the hook for many out-of-pocket expenses.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) is a federal law that allows employees and their dependents to continue their employer-sponsored health insurance coverage after experiencing a qualifying event that would otherwise result in loss of coverage - such as job loss, reduction in work hours, or divorce.
Under COBRA, eligible individuals can continue their health insurance coverage for up to 18 or 36 months, depending on the reason for the loss. But the costs can be significantly higher since the individual is responsible for paying the entire premium.
Additionally, COBRA coverage is only available for a limited period, so individuals should consider other options for health insurance coverage beyond the COBRA continuation period.
Health Insurance Marketplace
The Health Insurance Marketplace, or the Health Insurance Exchange, is a platform established under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to help individuals and families find affordable health insurance plans. The Marketplace offers a variety of health insurance plans from private insurance companies that meet the minimum standards set by the ACA.
To use the Health Insurance Marketplace, you must create an account and provide information about your household income, family size, and other personal details.
Some key features include:
Subsidies: Depending on your income level, you may be eligible for premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions to help make your health insurance more affordable.
Open enrollment: The Health Insurance Marketplace has an annual open enrollment period, typically from November 1 to December 15 each year. You can enroll in or change your health insurance plan. Outside of this period, you may be eligible for a special enrollment period if you experience a qualifying life event, such as losing your job or getting married.
Qualified health plans: All health insurance plans offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace must meet the minimum standards set by the ACA, which include coverage for essential health benefits like hospitalization, prescription drugs, and preventative care.
Short-Term Insurance Coverage
Short-term insurance coverage is a type of health insurance plan that provides temporary coverage for a limited period, typically up to 12 months. These plans are designed to cover unexpected medical events, such as accidents or illnesses, and are often less expensive than traditional health insurance plans.
Short-term insurance plans typically offer less comprehensive coverage than traditional ones and may not cover pre-existing conditions, maternity care, or mental health services. They also may have annual or lifetime coverage limits and may not offer the same consumer protections as traditional health insurance plans.
Because these plans are not required to comply with ACA regulations, they don't have to cover essential health benefits or provide coverage for preventive care services.
More "Between Jobs" Motivation
It can be pretty overwhelming trying to sift through all of the information. Many Americans opted out of insurance coverage because signing up was too complex or they didn't have specific details. It's essential to carefully consider all the options and choose a healthcare plan customized to your current needs and budget.
That is why speaking to a healthcare expert or insurance agent is one of the better methods for finding affordable health insurance. They understand the system and have access to all the information that isn't currently being displayed - putting your needs first. Remember, you are not alone. And don't forget to take some time for yourself while you work through this rough patch. #webelieveinyou NEXT: You've Got Options: Self-Employment Insurance