Changing jobs is a hassle. Even when the change is your decision and you are excited about making a move, there is a lot of uneasiness that comes with finding new work. When you are between jobs due to a termination of some sort, it is not uneasiness you deal with, it is piles of stress. One of the biggest issues during a change of employment is finding good health insurance between jobs. Fortunately, there are a few ways to make sure that you and your family are covered in the event you find yourself without employer sponsored health insurance.
Before you start looking at your options, there are a couple of things you will need to understand.
- First, make sure you have a firm understanding of when your coverage will begin at the new place. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) limits, for the most part, waiting periods to less than 90 days. Still, you will need to know if you will be covered on your new date of hire, first of the month following date of hire, first of the month following 60 days of employment, etc.
- Second, know going in that some of these options will be more costly than what you were paying at the old place. Your employer was most likely subsidizing a large portion of your premium. The amount varies by the employer, and some do not pay much, but some do.
- Third, a new plan will most likely have a different provider network, meaning your old doctor may not be in the network and you will pay more to visit him/her. Or you may not be able to visit that person at all. Check the networks of the plans you are considering.
Having said all that, here are the best ways you can get health insurance between jobs.
Health Insurance Marketplace
The health insurance marketplaces set up under PPACA are a great place to start when you find yourself looking for medical insurance at any point, especially if you are between jobs. The marketplaces, also called exchanges, have an annual enrollment period during which everyone can enroll, but if you have certain qualifying events, you may enroll at any time during the year. A loss of coverage is considered a qualifying event, so if you lose your insurance coverage when you leave a former employer, you can purchase a plan on the marketplace.
On the marketplace you will be able to easily explore and compare insurance options available in your area. Marketplace plans can be more expensive than what you were paying at your job, but you might also be eligible for a subsidy to help pay the premium. If the price is right, the marketplace might be the best option for finding health insurance between jobs.
Employers that employ 20 or more people are usually required to offer COBRA. COBRA allows employs to continue to be on their former employer’s health insurance plans. The catch is that the employee is required to pay the full cost of the premium plus a fee, usually an additional 2%. For a family plan, this can be upwards of $2,000 per month or even more. An individual plan might be around $500 per month, but compared to what the employee was most likely paying out of a paycheck, $500 is a big jump.
COBRA guarantees that your plan will stay the same, and your doctors will still be available. But it is costly, so make sure this is absolutely the best option for you when you need health insurance between jobs.
Short-Term Health Insurance
Another option is to get a short-term health insurance plan, or temporary health insurance. As the name implies, short-term health insurance is when you only will need the insurance for a small amount of time. It is not full coverage medical care, and it will not keep you from the PPACA individual mandate penalty. In fact, short-term health insurance is not subject to most of the PPACA provisions.
Companies offering short-term health insurance can deny coverage for pre-existing conditions, and they are not required to renew coverage.
Still, temporary insurance can be a great cost-effective way to get the medical care you need.
Coverage Through a Spouse’s Plan
For married couples, if both people work, the person that is between jobs can jump on their spouse’s plan if one is offered through that person’s employer. There probably was a good reason why both people were not on the remaining plan to begin with, so there is a good chance that the coverage or price may not be as good as the coverage that was lost. But the plan may still be better and cheaper than what is available through the marketplace and COBRA. And the plan will definitely cover more than what short-term insurance covers. If this option is available to you, it is probably your best bet when you need health insurance between jobs.
Joining a Parent’s Plan
For people under age 26, enrolling in a parent’s employer-sponsored plan is a terrific option. Many employers do not charge much additional for children, and if another child is already on the plan, there is a good chance that the monthly cost will not increase at all. The plan still probably passes all the tests to avoid the mandate penalty, so it keeps you out of trouble with the IRS.
While not health insurance, another way to get inexpensive health care while between jobs is to utilize telemedicine. With telemedicine you can talk to a doctor anywhere, anytime, 24/7. The cost is much lower than if you went to a doctor’s office and paid for the full charge of the visit, especially if you are not getting a network discount due to having no health insurance between jobs. Check out the link above and see if telemedicine is for you.
Health Insurance Between Jobs is Available
Being between employers is not always a fun thing to go through. Making sure you and your family are covered for medical expenses is a big priority. Fortunately, there are several ways to make sure everyone has quality and inexpensive health insurance between jobs.