A lay-off doesn’t indicate a loss of health coverage. Even when you don’t need to panic immediately, there’s no harm in taking your precaution.

Make the most before it ends

Don’t forget to ask your HR people about the expiry of your coverage as soon as you get the pink slip. If you lose your job in the middle of a month your coverage would last till the end of the month. You will have enough time to fill up a prescription or fix up an appointment with a doctor.

Pay for COBRA to retain your coverage

COBRA allows you to  retain the benefits of your employer-backed coverage till upto 18 months. It becomes a bit expensive as you’d need to bear the administrative costs worth 2% apart from your usual employer’s premiums.Once you lose your job, you’ll have a full 60 days time to apply for COBRA after you qualify. If you don’t sign for  COBRA even within 62 days of your job loss, then you’re gonna lose in terms of other things.

Pick a previous employer’s plan

A lay-off could be your best opportunity to switch plans. If your current employer is bearing much of your insurance cost, you could start considering a switch over soon after the entire cost falls on you. Talk to the former HR representative and inquire if they will offer you an insurance plan that costs less.

If you get a higher-deductible plan in combination with a health savings account, it would enable your family to save as well as feed medical bills through pre-tax dollars. Your premiums for such plans would surely be lesser.

Choose a health plan through parents or spouse

You may try to achieve a health plan at the work place of your spouse or parents. As per the federal law, you have 30 days to sign up for such a plan following your job loss. Many states would even allow you to achieve such coverage till 30 years of age.

Look for public programs

If your family income gets reduced following a job loss, then you might be eligible for Medicaid or SCHIP programs. A lower reimbursement through public programs may cause you to wait and restrict your access to primary care physicians and rationing facilities. Still it is considered better to go with public programs than go empty-handed.

It is the cost of COBRA coverage that urges only one out of ten jobless workers to sign for it. But that shouldn’t restrict you from looking for other options. You will come across better coverage options if you’d inquire without any procrastination beyond the 62-days period.

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