If you’ve said goodbye to a job that included health insurance as a benefit, you’re probably wondering how to get coverage while you decide what’s next. Whether you’re searching for a new career opportunity, starting a personal business, or pursuing a creative endeavor, there are several ways to get health insurance after losing job-based coverage.
6 Health Insurance Alternatives if You Lose Your Group Coverage
After losing job-based health insurance, you have other coverage options to choose from to ensure that you get the health care you need at a price that meets your budget. Here are five alternatives to job-based health insurance that can give you financial protection for medical care.
1. Short-Term Health Insurance
Short-term health insurance is an affordable option for those who want coverage for unexpected medical emergencies but cannot afford COBRA premiums or an ACA major medical plan. Short-term plans also provide benefits for various medical services, like doctor visits, urgent care visits, emergency room care, hospitalization, ground ambulance trips, and more. Also, short-term health insurance was previously limited to three to six months. However, you can now keep a short-term plan for up to one year with the option to renew coverage for up to three years, depending on your state.
Short-term health insurance has lower monthly premiums than many Affordable Care Act (ACA) major medical options, because they do not cover things like pre-existing conditions, mental health services, or pregnancy care. However, short-term health plans can be a viable option for people who don’t need all of the coverage included in ACA major medical plans. They also offer next-day coverage and the option to apply at any time.
2. COBRA Coverage
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) went into effect to give employees who lost job-based health benefits the opportunity to continue their coverage for a limited time. COBRA is available for those with qualified circumstances, such as job loss, reduction in work hours, or a gap between jobs. The main benefit of COBRA health insurance is that it gives employees an extension of their current health insurance plan. However, the price is not the same. Individuals could pay the plan’s entire premium for coverage up to 102 percent of the plan cost, and employers can keep two percent to cover administrative costs. COBRA is one of the more expensive health insurance options for someone who loses job-based coverage.
3. ACA Major Medical Plans
Typically, ACA major medical plans are only available during the yearly Open Enrollment Period. However, losing job-based health insurance classifies as a Qualifying Life Event, so you can apply for coverage through a Special Enrollment Period outside of Open Enrollment. Keep in mind that ACA major medical coverage has limited effective dates, so you may not get coverage that’s effective right away.
All ACA-compliant major medical plans include 10 essential health benefits, like prescription drug coverage, pregnancy care, mental health services, coverage for pre-existing conditions, preventive care, and more. If you need coverage for these medical services, then it could be a good idea to consider purchasing an ACA major medical plan.
The ACA offers many different major medical plans that are categorized by Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels. Bronze plans have the highest deductibles and the lowest premiums, and Platinum plans have the lowest deductibles and the highest premiums. The price of your plan depends on multiple factors, such as your location and family size. Also, there are subsidies in place for lower-income individuals to help alleviate some of the cost of expensive monthly premiums. If you’re considering purchasing ACA-compliant major medical insurance, make sure to compare plans and prices in your state to find out if your needs and budget will be met.
Depending on your income and the state you live in, you could be eligible for Medicaid, which is a cheap health insurance option for low-income earners, families and children, pregnant women, and those with disabilities. Medicaid’s coverage and cost vary by state but all programs include benefits for:
- Family planning services
- Rural health clinic services
- Inpatient and outpatient hospital care
- Home health care
- Transportation to medical care
- Physician services
- Pediatric care, and more
There is no Open Enrollment Period for Medicaid, so you can apply any time of year through the Health Insurance Marketplace or through your state’s Medicaid agency. If you are interested in Medicaid, you should note that not all physicians accept it and you may be limited to your program’s provider network.
5. CHIP Coverage for Children
If you recently lost job-based coverage and need health insurance for your children, they may be eligible for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). CHIP offers low-cost pediatric care for families that earn too high of an income to qualify for Medicaid. The pricing and benefits of CHIP vary by state, but comprehensive care is included no matter where you live, so your children can receive health care for:
- Doctor visits
- Routine check-ups
- Dental and vision care
- Inpatient and outpatient hospital care
- Emergency services
- Laboratory and X-ray services
6. Private Health Insurance
If you want to learn about other health insurance options, then consider connecting with a private health insurance agent. Health insurance agents compare plans and prices and complete your enrollment for you. They want to sell you the best plan that meets your personal needs, whether that is short-term health insurance or an ACA major medical plan. Also, they are paid by the companies they work for, so you’re not required to pay them for their services. Health insurance agents can answer your questions, help you find the right plan for your needs and budget, and help you understand the ins and outs of the plan that you purchase.
Losing job-based health insurance can be stressful, but you can find relief in knowing that you have alternative coverage options. Vera Health offers affordable short-term health insurance with flexible term durations, low monthly premiums, and renewability options. If you don’t want all of the benefits included in an ACA major medical plan, we can help you pay for the coverage you want, not the coverage you don’t. To find out if short-term health insurance is a good fit for you, call 844-260-7226 to chat with a Vera Health expert or visit us online. If you’re looking for a major medical plan that offers more coverage, we can help you there, too.
This coverage is not required to comply with federal market requirements for health insurance, principally those contained in the Affordable Care Act. Be sure to check your policy carefully to make sure you are aware of any exclusions or limitations regarding coverage of preexisting conditions or health benefits (such as hospitalization, emergency services, maternity care, preventive care, prescription drugs, and mental health and substance use disorder services). If this coverage expires or you lose eligibility for this coverage, you might have to wait until an open enrollment period to get other health insurance coverage.