Protect Your Health Coverage If You Lose Your Job
Losing your job can be a frightening prospect that affects your life in many ways. Workers lose income, the security of a steady job and often, the health benefits that go along with working full time. It is important to know what rights you have under the law, and what you can do to prevent a loss of health coverage. Although you may not realize it, you do have options:
Special Enrollment in Another Group Health Plan
If other group health plan coverage is available (for example, if your spouse has a job that offers health coverage), consider special enrollment. Special enrollment allows you and your family to enroll in a plan for which you are otherwise eligible, regardless of enrollment periods. Enrollment must be requested within 30 days of losing eligibility for other coverage. This type of coverage is usually the most cost-effective of all of the options. For more information about special enrollment, visit our HIPAA publication.
COBRA Continuation Coverage
If your employer continues to operate and offer a plan, COBRA continuation coverage may be available. COBRA would allow you and your family to continue the same group health coverage at group rates. Your cost for coverage may be higher than what you were paying before but generally is lower than that for private, individual health insurance coverage. The plan should send you a notice of availability and you have 60 days to elect coverage. COBRA coverage typically lasts 18 months. Find more information about COBRA.
Affordable Care Act
For young adults, most health plans that cover children now must make coverage available on a parent’s plan up to age 26. And for those who have been denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition and who have been uninsured for at least six months, Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Programs make health coverage available. For more information, visit www.healthcare.gov as well as the Department of Labor’s dedicated Affordable Care Act Page.
State or Federal programs such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and Medicare may be available. You should contact your State Insurance Commissioner’s Office or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for more information about these options.
Private, Individual Health Insurance
You may qualify for guaranteed access to such coverage under HIPAA or be able to obtain it without meeting these criteria. The cost of individual coverage is often higher than similar coverage under a group health plan through special enrollment or COBRA. For more information contact the resources noted under Government Programs.
The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) administers the Federal law that governs health benefit plans provided by private sector employers. This includes these important protections for those facing difficult economic times. If you have questions about your health coverage rights under the law, contact EBSA online by visiting our Consumer Assistance page or call 1.866.444.3272.
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