It is no secret that large employers are required to provide health protection to full-time workers, as by law they must pay a part of the insurance premium to ensure worker’s protection during and after work hours. However, when an employee is laid off or falls below the minimum in work hours per week, they become ineligible for this benefit.
To retain health insurance for some time, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA, is a program that allows employees and their dependents to enjoy continued support for a limited period by paying for its premium. It allows for group rates as well as individual allowances and it is available for any voluntary or involuntary job loss, as long as it is not for gross misconduct.
COBRA is a great option for people in between jobs, as the rate is lower than private health insurance and it covers the family group, but, the coverage heavily depends on the employer. If they change plans you will be affected, as it does not guarantee life insurance or prescription drugs. Also, it is only available for a period of up to 36 months unless you are eligible due to a disability or similar conditions.
It is important to note that premiums may be so high that the individual cannot cover it, which is why it is important to get to know your alternatives. As an unemployed taxpayer, you are probably eligible for Medicaid. This is a public health insurance program that provides healthcare for families and individuals with low income. It is partly funded by the federal government and it measures low income based on the federal poverty level. Usually, the patient copay cost is very low, and they are entitled to privately managed care plans, which makes it a compelling option. Nevertheless, it is known to be a cause for discrimination and lower quality treatments as the options are very limited, wait times are longer, and it usually covers only the basics. It can be supplemented with Medicaid Advantage Plus plans, but you will have to pay a premium for them.
For the elderly or young people with disabilities, a common solution is Medicare. While premiums are higher than Medicaid, it is much lower than private coverage, and through the different Medicare parts, you have the possibility of choosing the plan that fits your needs more accurately. It can also be complemented with Medicare Advantage Plans for coverage on specifics, such as drug prescriptions or hospital stays. Although, keep in mind that you must be over 65 years old for eligibility or meet strict criteria if you are younger to be able to buy a plan.
Another great alternative to Cobra comes under the Affordable Care Act, as you can enroll under the Health Insurance Marketplace right now. It offers a lot of great options for health coverage at much lower costs than the private sector, but if you already own a Medicare plan, you cannot use the marketplace for health insurance.
Some private Health Insurance companies, such as Blue Cross Blue Shield, UnitedHealthcare, or Kaiser Permanente, offer compelling choices for the average individual and family groups, with wider coverage and many more options than the ones offered on federal programs, but with higher premiums.
In the end, it all comes down to qualification and simply taking the best choice available for you, as it is much preferable to enroll in any health insurance coverage than none at all. In desperate times, the best path to take will always be the one that ensures your continued health and safety.Alternative To Cobra Insurance
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