The Recession
The Recession

7 Ways to Keep Health Coverage if You Lose Your Job

| by NCPA

Laid off? Don't panic. The following summarizes a new list of suggestions on how to maintain health coverage from the National Center for Policy Analysis.

According to Devon Herrick, a health economist and senior fellow with the NCPA, there are seven options you should consider as soon as possible after getting pink-slipped:

-- Use it before you lose it -- one of the first things you should do after getting laid off is ask the company human resources person exactly when your employer-paid coverage expires.

-- Stay in your employer plan by paying the (COBRA) premium -- be aware that you must accept and sign up for COBRA within 60 days or lose that option completely

-- Apply for the federal (COBRA) subsidy -- under the new stimulus bill, you may qualify for a 65 percent subsidy of COBRA costs for that first nine months.

-- Choose a cheaper former employer plan -- ask your former HR representative if the company offers a lower cost insurance plan that would cost you less under COBRA.


-- Join a spouse's or parent's health plan -- however, you need to act quickly because federal law requires that you sign up within 30 days from the date of a job loss.

-- Shop around for inexpensive coverage -- there may be cheaper and better alternatives to COBRA, especially if you have no severe health problems.

-- If uninsurable (because of pre-existing conditions) you may still be able to obtain insurance -- 35 states have high-risk pools to insure those who are turned down by commercial insurers.

Ask questions and don't procrastinate past your 62-day window.  Even high-deductible, catastrophic coverage may prevent years of financial medical debts, explains Herrick.

Source: Devon Herrick, "7 Ways to Keep Your Health Care If You Lose Your Job," National Center for Policy Analysis, March 16, 2009.

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