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What to Do if You’ve Just Lost Health Insurance

Rear view shot of a senior woman sitting in a wheelchair in the hall of a hospital.

Health insurance used to be something you could choose to have. Today, you need to have it because medical costs are so high. On average, Americans spend about $10,000 a year on medical bills. Taking out health insurance with a monthly payment is much cheaper than paying all the medical expenses yourself. But sometimes, things like losing your job or going through a divorce can leave you without health insurance, and you may not know where to find it. While there is a specific time at the end of each year when most people can buy health insurance, you’re not completely out of luck if you lose your coverage at another time.

The recent healthcare reform law has made it easier for everyone to get health insurance when they need it, regardless of the reason. To find affordable health insurance quickly, you should do different things depending on why you lost your old insurance. Follow these steps as soon as possible to avoid running out of coverage and facing high costs.

Common Reasons For Losing Health Insurance

Lost Due to Losing Your Job

Loss of a job that offers health insurance as a benefit is the single most common reason people find themselves with an interruption in coverage. Even if you know you’re going to be laid off, it’s easy to forget about insurance while you’re dealing with other more pressing issues. Most people in this situation need short term health insurance to be covered until they find another position with its own benefits package. Each employer follows the enrollment process as well, so getting a job outside of the enrollment period for health insurance means you may have to wait up to a year before your new employer’s policy covers you.

Regardless of whether you lose your job, get fired or decide to leave on your own, your company’s health insurance will end on the same day. This is unless your company has a special agreement that says otherwise. Even if you just paid a full month’s worth of insurance the day before, you may suddenly find yourself without coverage if you are laid off immediately.

If you used to have insurance through your job, you can sign up for something called COBRA. This is a government program that allows you to keep your company’s group health insurance until you can replace it. The catch is that you have to pay the full cost of the insurance. You can stay on COBRA for up to 18 months, which gives you time to find a plan on the healthcare marketplace or wait for your new job benefits to start.

Lost Due to Divorce

When a relationship ends and you are covered by your partner’s insurance, that coverage also ends. However, any insurance policies in your name will still belong to you. Joint insurance, which you shared with your partner, must be canceled by law after a divorce, even if you continue to maintain good relations with your former spouse. They can no longer keep you on their insurance.

COBRA applies here as well. You can stay on the same insurance plan by paying for it through COBRA for up to 36 months. You can also explore other options, such as enrolling in your company’s insurance plan if you initially declined it, or buying insurance yourself. 

Lost Due to Cancellation

It’s very rare, but sometimes insurance companies cancel their services to an entire state. This is known as cancellation and it has to come at the end of a 12 month agreement after a 90 day written notice. The insurance company must offer to sign you up for any of their other plans offered in your state, and you also have the right to check the marketplace for new policies from any insurer at that time. Very few people experience this kind of cancellation, but it is expected to increase in the next few years due to uncertainties in health insurance regulations.

Immediate Steps to Take

Losing your health insurance can be really tough, but it’s important to act quickly to make sure you can still get the healthcare you need. First things first, don’t worry too much – there are things you can do right away to make sure you can still see a doctor.

Notification and Documentation

The first step to take after losing your health insurance is to be notified by your provider or company as soon as possible. This notice should be in writing and should include the date you lost your coverage. You should keep a copy of this notice with all communications with your insurance company so that you are clear on the process.

Requesting a Certificate of Creditable Coverage

Contacting your provider and requesting a Certificate of Creditable Coverage is next. This document can be valuable should you wish to purchase another. 

Utilizing Remaining Coverage 

If your health insurance coverage doesn’t end immediately but is good until the following month or other clear date, make the most of your remaining benefits. Schedule pending medical appointments or procedures. This helps address any urgent medical needs before they end.

Pending Medical Appointments and Prescriptions

Carefully review your scheduled appointments and prescriptions. If you have any prescriptions that you feel need to be refilled, review the supply of medication you have during this transition. Change your appointments if necessary.

Understanding Your Benefits Until the Coverage end Date

Take some time to learn about your insurance benefits up to the date coverage ends. This could include co-payments. Being informed will allow you to make better decisions should you renew your health insurance. 

What is COBRA and How Does It Work?

COBRA, short for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, is a law that helps folks who lose their job-based health insurance. This can happen if you lose your job or work fewer hours. COBRA lets you keep the same health insurance plan you had when you were working. However, there’s a catch: you have to pay the whole cost of the insurance, including what your employer used to pay, and a small extra fee. COBRA usually lets you keep this coverage for 18 to 36 months, depending on your situation.

Eligibility and Enrollment Process

If you want to use COBRA, you need to have health insurance through your job. Then, something like losing your job, getting a divorce, or working fewer hours has to happen for you to be able to use it.

If you qualify, your former employer must inform you about COBRA, and you usually have 60 days to decide if you want to use it. Before making a choice, it’s really important to carefully examine the specifics, like how much it costs and how long it will cover you. COBRA might cost more than other alternatives, so it’s crucial to know what options you have.

What’s Next? Investigate Marketplace Options

Check out the Health Insurance Marketplace. You can find health plans there that don’t cost too much, and you might even get help paying for them depending on how much money you make. By looking into the Marketplace, you can make sure you get good coverage that doesn’t break the bank.

Our coverages here at Freeway Insurance can be the option you are looking for in an affordable health care plan. 

Proactive Planning for Future Health Coverage With Freeway Insurance!

Online insurance shopping is great, but it doesn’t compare to working with an experienced insurance broker. We can help you with both types of insurance shopping here at Freeway Insurance. Contact Freeway Insurance by dialing 800-777-5620 to compare insurance rates and get more information.

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