If you have lost your job and your health insurance, you may be wondering what your options are. Your first option is COBRA, which is an option that allows you to keep the coverage that you have for 18 month following the loss of your job. The good news is that the government currently has a 65% subsidy for COBRA so it will cost a lot less than it has in the past (it is scheduled to end at some point in 2010). The caveat is that if you leave your job on your own accord, you do not qualify for the subsidy. If you have preexisting conditions, you might strongly consider keeping your coverage through COBRA as you may not be able to get insurance and if you do, you may pre-existing condition exclusions.
If you are in good health, you might be able to qualify for a personal health insurance policy. Keep in mind there are a few different forms of health insurance so you will want to talk to your local insurance agent about which is best for you. Some options are:
- HMO/PPO - If you have a large family and require frequent doctor visits, this might be a good option for you.
- Major Medical – This covers you in the case of hospitalization, accidents, or major illness, but usually does not cover doctors office or hospital visits.
- Indemnity Insurance – This is kind of a hybrid between a PPO and a Major Medical plan. It offers a limited amount of each type of services (i.e. a few doctors visits per year and limits on accidents and hospitalization). It also has caps on its services, so you need to read the fine print on these plans.
- Discount fee for service health programs. These programs are great for those who cannot afford or qualify for health insurance. They will help you get discounts on medical care, but they usually require that you pay at the time of service to get the discount. The plus is that they often offer discount on medical, dental, chiropractic, vision and prescription drugs. A company that I have personally used for several years is Ameriplan and they have really been a driving force in this market for decades. Ameriplan has been serving customers since 1972 and currently helps over 1,000,000 Americans save money on health care expenses. Their family plan (called Total Health) provides discounts for an entire household for for just $39.95 per month (with a one time $30 enrollment fee).
If you are unemployed, it’s good to know that you have options. I recommend talking to your local insurance agent as soon as possible to discuss short term and long term options for health care coverage during this transitional period.