What to Do If You Lose Your Job and Need Insurance

Uncertainty is a fact of life and for millions of Americans that includes losing their job at one point or another. It’s a particularly stressful time because many find themselves without their primary source of health insurance when they lose their job. But job loss doesn’t mean you can’t stay insured. And VSP Vision Care is here to help with information and resources so you can regain the coverage you and your family need—in a time when you might need it most.

I need health insurance now: Moving beyond the worry and taking action to get reinsured

It’s true, losing your health coverage can be a stressful life event—scary, even. But it doesn’t need to derail you altogether. Rest assured that you have the necessary tools at your disposal to protect yourself. Below are four of the top options for regaining health coverage after job loss, even in a time of crisis. Keep a level head, arm yourself with the facts, and make an informed decision to reenlist the coverage you need.  

1) COBRA extended insurance coverage

After you lose your job, it’s possible to enroll in COBRA and maintain your health insurance plan for up to 18 months (even longer, in special cases). This includes any family members or dependents that were also originally covered by the plan. 

Once you have enrolled in COBRA, you’ll have to pay for the entire premium. This could mean a sharp increase in what you were paying previously—especially given that, on average, employers cover about 70% 80% for employee health insurance plans. Be sure to compare the costs and benefits of COBRA with other plan options before making a decision.

COBRA Advantages:                 

Familiarity – maintain the same coverage you had, with all the same benefits. 

Quality – depending on your employer and previous plan, the health coverage might be better than other health plan options; e.g. provided by the Marketplace (ACA) in your state. 

COBRA Disadvantages:   

Expensive – you pay the full premium of the plan, plus a 2% administrative fee.

 Inflexible – once enrolled, you cannot change to a Marketplace option until Open Enrollment in November, or until the 18 months are up.  

2) Medicare Health Insurance, if you qualify

If you’re over 65, have qualifying disabilities or receiving dialysis treatments, you’re eligible to get health insurance through Medicare. Medicare has a few insurance options to choose from, but not all provide dental and vision coverage, so you may also need dental insurance or vision insurance in addition to your Medicare coverage. Be sure to do your research when signing up for Medicare after job loss. 

This summary of the different Medicare options can help you get started and you can visit www.Medicare.gov for more information.

          Medicare Part A: Hospital Insurance

          Medicare Part B: Medical Insurance

          Medicare Part C: Medicare Advantage Plans (bundles Parts A, B, and D,
                                          and typically includes extra benefits like vision, dental, and hearing)

          Medicare Part D: Prescription Drug Plans

Medicare Advantages:       

Reasonably cost-effective: Medicare is intended to ease the costs of healthcare in the retirement phase of life. 

Practical choice combinations: Although a bit difficult to understand your options clearly, there are many options for securing coverage best suited to your needs. 

Medicare Disadvantages:   

Complex: Different rules apply for each Medicare category (Parts A, B, C, and D). Pay attention to what is covered, what is allowed, and when you should enroll. Penalties may apply. 

Premium penalties: Depending on when you enroll in the different parts of Medicare, it’s possible to be subjected to penalties for the lifetime of coverage.  

3) Individual Health Insurance

Since 2010, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has allowed individuals to purchase their own health insurance through government-regulated online marketplaces. While there is a specific Open Enrollment Period each year starting in November, you may qualify for a Special Enrollment Period if you’ve lost your health insurance due to job loss. You just need to do this within 60 days of your employment ending.

 The plans themselves are priced based on your total household income and household size. There are two things to keep in mind, though: 1) More than 85% of Americans are eligible for cost-reduction subsidies, which make these plans affordable, regardless of your circumstances; and 2) There is a large range of plan options, with different types of coverage and pricing, all based on your needs and individual ability to pay.

Individual Health Insurance Advantages:       

Available to everyone: One of the primary goals of the ACA is to provide health coverage to people who might otherwise not have access to affordable healthcare. 

Variety: Lots of plan/coverage options to choose from. 

Costs based on income: You may qualify for lower premiums and savings on your out-of-pocket costs, if you have a household income that applies. 

Individual Health Insurance Disadvantages:   

Start date: Coverage only starts on the first of each month after you have lost your previous coverage and enrolled in a Marketplace plan. So, if you need health insurance now, be sure you take this into account. 

Coverage: Plans with better coverage might be available through other options. 

4) Vision and Dental Insurance

Many of the health insurance options mentioned above do not include dental or vision coverage, or the coverage might be minimal. So you may find you still need dental insurance and vision insurance. Thankfully, you can buy individual dental insurance and vision insurance yourself. VSP provides a variety of vision insurance options and though it’s partnership with Guardian will help point you to dental insurance options to help you complete your coverage. 

With flexible pricing and payment options for individuals, couples, and families, VSP vision plans are designed to be affordable and practical. If you’re still uncertain about your options, visit the VSP Job Loss page to see how VSP vision and dental insurance might be a possibility for you. 

Whatever decision you make to get health, vision, and dental insurance coverage during this difficult time, it’s important to remember that only you know what you need and what is practical for you and your family. And should you need care, you will be grateful to have not taken this decision lightly.

Disclaimer: Information received through VSP Vision Care's social media channels is for informational purposes only VSP cannot and does not provide professional, financial, medical or legal advice.

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