It seems like everyone these days has an opinion on how health care should work in the United States. The topic of health care coverage is sure to be a hot button one this election cycle, with many Americans unsure of how to best navigate getting the medical help they need.
While many different problems plague the health system, one situation many families find themselves in is dealing with a gap in health insurance coverage. A variety of things cause this gap, and it can be difficult to handle.
What if something were to happen during this window of no coverage? Can one protect themselves or their families? Luckily, there are options out there that those in this situation might be able to successfully employ.
If you are in this situation yourself, read on. We’ll walk you through what you need to know.
1. COBRA Health Insurance
One of the most popular options for those looking at an upcoming health insurance gap? COBRA.
That might sound like a bit of a threatening name, but it actually stands for something quite helpful: the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act.
While a bit wordy, that essentially means that COBRA is in place to allow you to continue to use health insurance from your current employer for a period of time after you no longer qualify. That includes leaving your job or getting fired.
COBRA also covers other instances that might result in a person losing their health insurance coverage. That would include getting one’s hours reduced, getting a divorce, or otherwise losing a family member that the coverage is dependent on.
If you do become eligible for COBRA, your health insurance provider should reach out on their own with more information. This information should cover most of what you need to know: how to sign up, the benefits you’ll receive, and how the system works.
Sound too good to be true? It might be.
Not all employers are required by law to offer COBRA insurance. Your employer might not. If you work for a very small business, there’s a higher chance that COBRA insurance won’t be an option for you.
There’s also the high costs to consider. Once you’re no longer officially on your employer’s payroll, you’ll have to start taking on the full brunt of health insurance payments on your own.
Since the costs will no longer be subsidized through your employer, you might find the costs of keeping COBRA insurance to be far more expensive than what you can really afford. For this reason, COBRA might not be the best option for everyone.
2. Short Term Health Insurance
What if you can’t afford an option like COBRA? You might want to look into short term health insurance instead. These sorts of plans will vary by provider, but generally cover medical services, doctor visits, emergency room visits, and most urgent care services.
Providers of short term health insurance are aware that the odds of an incident happening during the small window of time that you are covered is likely slim. As such, they are able to provide lower premiums than many other health insurance providers can.
Most short term health insurance plans don’t cover the extent of services that COBRA or ACA plans might. For example, most do not have anything in place to help cover pre-existing conditions. If you personally do not need all the benefits that come with those plans, however, a short term health insurance plan might be the perfect solution for you.
Most short term health insurance plans can be kept for up to one year. Some will even let you renew at that point for another year or two of coverage. The specific rules surrounding these plans will depend on which provider you speak to and where you are located.
You can visit this blog for more information about short term health insurance and other related topics.
3. ACA Plans
Health care plans provided by the Affordable Care Act may present a solution for those who are worried about a gap in their health insurance. These plans are offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace and must be applied to during the annual Open Enrollment Period.
However, a Special Enrollment Period is opened for those who lose their jobs, so you may be able to get onto an ACA plan if you’ve lost your insurance as a result of the loss of your employment.
In most instances, an individual will have a 60-day window to apply for coverage after their employment benefits have been terminated. Within this time, a person can browse the available plans in the marketplace and find one that works for them.
Not all plans will become effective at the same time, so it’s important that one considers the dates when looking at various plans. Some plans might also offer subsidized coverage based on your personal income.
Most plans offered by the ACA also offer different levels of enrollment, usually denoted as Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum. These offer ranges of benefits at higher premiums. In this way, you should be able to find a plan for your gap that fits the benefits and costs that you need.
Resolving a Gap in Health Insurance Coverage
Having a gap in health insurance coverage is enough to make anyone nervous and uncomfortable. Many Americans don’t know what to do when they find themselves in this kind of situation. The above options are just a few of the solutions worth considering.