Even after the Affordable Care Act created health exchanges that allow individuals to purchase health insurance on the open market, as of 2019, more than half of all American adults still received their health care coverage through their employer.1 For these people, losing their job—and, therefore, their access to health insurance—can be even more stressful than usual. Fortunately, options are available that can help ensure you and your family won’t go without coverage (or care) if you find yourself suddenly unemployed. Read on to find some tips and tricks for shopping for health care while you’re unemployed.
What Kinds of Health Insurance Options Are Available?
Losing your job doesn’t mean an immediate termination of health insurance coverage. In most cases, health care coverage should continue until the last day the employee is on the payroll or, if the health insurance is billed monthly, the end of the current month. Moreover, many people can qualify for COBRA health care coverage, which provides access to the same health plan they had under their employer, although without their employer subsidizing any of the cost.
You also may be able to purchase health insurance through your state’s insurance exchange. Depending on your income and family size, you may qualify for subsidies that may make the plan cheaper. Some people are pleasantly surprised to discover the cost for exchange insurance is less than the cost for employer-sponsored insurance.
Depending on income level and your state’s eligibility requirements, you or your children may qualify for your state’s Medicaid plan. These plans generally have low-income limits, so they may not be an option for those with significant liquid assets.
What Should You Consider When Shopping for Health Care?
When unemployed, health insurance is just one piece of the health care puzzle. Every individual should also try to make wise health care decisions to help reduce the amount of the insured (and uninsured) medical expenses they’re required to pay.
For instance, if you need a non-urgent procedure, getting a second opinion (or a second price) may be appropriate. Shopping around often significantly reduces the cost of certain tests and procedures. In fact, even within the same metropolitan area, wide variances can occur in the price of everything from a CT scan to a cesarean.
Paying in cash also may help individuals realize some discounts. Billing a patient’s insurance policy can be time-consuming, particularly if the claim is in a category for which coverage is frequently denied. By paying cash instead of going through insurance, you may be able to reduce the total amount of the bill. Those with high-deductible health plans who must pay the deductible before receiving any benefit often gain few advantages in even going through insurance.
By keeping these tips in mind, you should be better able to navigate any health crises that occur while searching for your next job.
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