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New Dependents and COBRA Insurance

Posted on: September 30th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

A question we recently received from a reader…

COBRA Insurance and RetirementDear COBRA Insurance Benefits,
My father recently retired but isn’t yet qualified for Medicare.  He is moving into our home and I will be paying all of his expenses since he lost his retirement account.  I know under tax law I can count him as a dependent since his income is below the threshold and I will take care of him full time.  Can I also sign him up for my COBRA insurance plan so he has health insurance?

Answer:  Under most health insurance plans, since he is a dependent, he would be able to enroll in your COBRA health insurance plan.  Depending on the insurance plan this might only be able to happen during open enrollment but in other plans you may be able to add him at any time.  The easiest way to make sure you can add him as a dependent under your COBRA insurance plan is by reaching out to your health insurance provider.


COBRA Insurance and Retiring Early

Posted on: September 28th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

People holding handsMany people these days are considering early retirement as they contemplate their future.  In determining if you are financially able to retire early, there is one key expense that many people forgot to include when they calculate their budget and monetary needs – health insurance.  Given that health insurance is extremely expensive if you do not yet qualify for Medicare, this can be a deal breaker when making the decision to retire early.

So what options do you have for health insurance if you are considering early retirement?  Essentially there are three options.  First, is Medicare.  If you qualify, Medicare is definitely the most affordable option.  Your second option is COBRA health insurance.  You can continue to keep your health insurance from your employer when you retire for 18 months.  Under COBRA insurance you will have to pay the full premium.  The last option – a private plan.

Small Business Owners: Tip for Choosing Health Insurance

Posted on: September 26th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Nurse and computerQuitting your job and deciding to open your own small business can be a very exciting time for many.  Although many people who follow this path can elect to have COBRA health insurance for the first 18 months, many are faced with a difficult health insurance decision when COBRA ends.  If you are someone in this position, follow these 5 tips to choose the best health insurance for you.

1.  Understand your Health Insurance Options:  The most important thing to starting any health insurance search is understanding your options in full.  Make sure to explore both private and government sponsored programs.  There is a good chance that you may qualify for a state run program.  In addition explore comprehensive coverage as well as high deductible and short term coverage.  Note down all the options, their prices, and the coverage.  Then think through each based on your health needs and budget.

2.  Consider Affiliating Yourself with a Group: Many organizations offer the benefits of group health insurance without needing an employer offered plan.  Look into alumni organizations, industry organizations, and more to find out what group health insurance they offer.  It may be cheaper than going out on your on.

3.  Shop Around to Understand Different Plans:  It is always important to look at multiple plans and the easiest way to do so is through online sites with simple forms to complete.  The most popular are eHealthInsurance, HealthPlanOne and InsureMonkey.  You can also use governmental and state sites to explore trusted plans.

4.  Factor in the Health Insurance Tax Deduction: When you are self employed you are allowed to deduct your health insurance costs from your income.  This is considered an above the line deduction.

5.  Get Quotes for Multiple Plans:  Finally, get quotes and consider multiple scenarios using those quotes.  Imagine the cost if you needed to visit the doctor, get a prescription medication, etc.  Cost out each option to understand the full cost of choosing that insurance plan.

Employer Health Insurance Coverage Rates Fall

Posted on: September 24th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

MagnifierUnfortunately according to the 2010 Census data, the number of health insurance companies who are offering health insurance benefits to employees is falling.  It is down about 1% from 2009, to 55.3%, and has been steadily dropping since 2001.  This drop in employer based health insurance programs is causing a couple of things to happen.  First, more people are signing up for government based health insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid.  Additionally, more people are signing up for private health insurance plans and paying out of pocket.  The final consequence, and the most detrimental, is that more people are going without health insurance.

How to Find Health Insurance When COBRA Runs Out?

Posted on: September 22nd, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Nurse and PatientA reader recently wrote to us wondering what he should do when his COBRA insurance runs out.  Him and his wife have been on COBRA insurance for the last 17 months and have about 30 days to make a plan for when their insurance stops.  They are both in their fifties and they have a daughter for is 24 who is also on their health insurance plan with COBRA.

Many people find themselves in this situation and making a decision about what avenue to pursue can be a difficult one. The major sticking point for this family is whether or not anyone in their family has serious medical needs or a preexisting condition.  If so, a comprehensive private plan is probably the only way to go for those with preexisting conditions.  They will likely need to apply to multiple providers to find a health insurance plan who accepts them and that they can afford.

If no one in the family has a major medical need or preexisting condition, there are more options.  For a comprehensive plan, a private insurance provider will still be the way to go.  However, they could also consider short term, catastrophic, and indemnity plans that are much cheaper.  These plans however are very limited and often have very strict guidelines for what is covered.

COBRA Insurance Subsidies Come To An End

Posted on: September 20th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

FamilyDue to the economic recession and the large amount of people who found themselves unemployed, the government passed laws to create a COBRA insurance subsidy for people who needed COBRA insurance but were not able to afford the expensive premium.  This COBRA insurance subsidy paid 65% of the premium for anyone on COBRA who was unemployed and met certain conditions.  The government renewed this subsidy three times to extend its length and continue to assist people.

Unfortunately, this subsidy came to an end on August 30, 2011 which means that no one is eligible to receive assistance paying for their COBRA insurance benefits any longer.  If you are considering COBRA insurance but worried about the cost it is smart to look at alternatives to COBRA insurance and also get quotes from independent companies to compare rates and health insurance plans.



When To Consider COBRA Health Insurance Alternatives

Posted on: August 9th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

COBRA insurance is a great health care option for many, however it definitely isn’t always the most affordable or most strategic choice depending on your circumstances.  The following list outlines some reasons you may not want to sign up for COBRA insurance.

1.  You are in good health:  If you are in good health, you may be able to find a less costly health insurance alternative to COBRA without losing too much coverage.  Explore alternative plans and research different insurance options if you are relatively young and in good health.

2.  You are on a tight budget:  The fact is that COBRA insurance is very expensive for most families to keep and it is like there are more cost effective insurance plans out there.  Explore other options if you are on a tight budget.  You may have to accept a more strict health insurance plan but can save lots of money.

3.  You qualify for state or federal health insurance:  Always make sure to check to see if you qualify for any state or federal health insurance plans before enrolling in COBRA.  This could include plans for children and/or governmental health insurance plans for veterans and others.  These plans will be much more cost effective.

4.  You qualify for Medicare:  If you can sign up for Medicare, it is a much cheaper option to COBRA health insurance.  You can still sign up for COBRA insurance to be  a secondary plan but it will come at a high cost.

5.  You believe you will have another job with insurance soon:  If you believe you will be employed soon, especially within 60 days, you may be able to wait.  COBRA insurance can be retro-activated 60 days past the last day of your coverage, which means if you have any medical emergencies during that time, you can just sign up for COBRA and be covered.


How to Qualify for 36 Months of COBRA Insurance

Posted on: July 22nd, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

DoctorAlthough for most people COBRA insurance coverage will only last 18 months, there  are some situations where COBRA health insurance can actually extend beyond the typical 18 months.  Knowing what these circumstances are can save you and your family from having to switch insurers or experiencing a lapse in health insurance coverage.

1.  A Second Qualifying Event:  Under the federal COBRA insurance laws, there are certain events, known as a Secondary Qualifying Event” that will extend COBRA insurance coverage for an additional 18 months to 36 months in total.  The downside to this law is that it almost only extends to dependents and spouses and not to the former employee.  If the formerly covered employee becomes entitled to Medicare, becomes divorced or separated from a spouse covered on the COBRA plan, or the formerly covered employee dies, their dependents/spouses are able to have health insurance under COBRA insurance plans.  Also if a dependent child covered under COBRA loses their dependent status, they can qualify for an additional 18 months of COBRA health insurance coverage.

2.  State Sponsored COBRA Insurance:  Many states offer their own COBRA insurance programs normally known as mini COBRA plans.  In some states, these plans offer an additional 18 months of coverage to eligible state recipients and their dependents.  Learn if your state offers state sponsored COBRA insurance here.

As always, before you decide to extend your COBRA insurance coverage for an additional 18 months you should always consider alternatives to make sure you have the right coverage at the right price.

Unemployed Individual Health Insurance Plans – An Alternative to COBRA Health Insurance

Posted on: July 12th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Unemployed Individual Health Insurance Plans - An Alternative to COBRA Health InsuranceWith the unemployment rate still hovering at 9% this month, that means that thousands of folks are finding themselves needing a sound health insurance option for themselves and their families.  Knowing this and know how complicated it can be to determine what health insurance plan is right for you, here are some of the key factors to consider when looking into health insurance options for  you and your family.  And the best way to make a decision, make a chart, include the following information, and weigh out your options.  At the very least you should compare COBRA health insurance, individual health insurance plans, and short term health insurance plans (also known as catastrophic or high deductible plans.  To get this information fast, use online insurers and request quotes – it’s the fastest way.  You can find this links on our website under COBRA insurance alternatives.

1.  Monthly Premium:  This is the monthly cost to cover you and your family.  For most people who are unemployed this will be a key deciding factor in exploring health insurance options.

2.  Plan coverage:  Make sure you fully understand what the plan covers – what doctors, what prescriptions, what emergencies.  This is critical.

3.  Preventive Care:  Find out if the health insurance plan offers preventive care.

4.  Deductibles:  Find out how much it will cost when you go to the doctor, the emergency room, need an ambulance, fill a prescription, and more.

5.  Length of coverage:  How long can you be covered under the plan.  Under many short term plans, there is a maximum length of coverage and COBRA health insurance also has a maximum coverage period.

6.  Prescriptions:  Make sure to find out if the plan coverages prescriptions, especially if you are currently taking medication, and what the cost is.

7.  Flexible Spending:  If this is an important plan feature, make sure to check in if they have it.

Once you have all of this information, compare your options and choose the best option for you and your family.

COBRA Health Insurance – Is it the Best Choice?

Posted on: July 11th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

If you arNurse and computere someone who has recently lost or quit your job, likely you are facing the difficult decision of whether COBRA health insurance is the right choice for  you.  COBRA health insurance is actually not health insurance at all, but actually a governmental law that allows you to choose to continue your group health insurance plan under the COBRA health insurance act with your previous employer.  Most people qualify for COBRA health insurance if they work at a company with over 20 employees and were not fired for gross misconduct.  Also, under COBRA health insurance it is likely that anyone previously covered under your plan (i.e. spouses, children, and other dependent) will be covered under COBRA health insurance.

So who is COBRA health insurance good for?

  • Workers, spouses, or dependent young children who have pre-existing wellness conditions that most likely will not be covered under a new insurance provider.
  • Those who expect to obtain on one other employer-sponsored plan within the near future and only need a short term remedy
  • Numerous outside insurance plans demand which you sign up for a minimum period of coverage.
  • Workers and their spouses over the age of 50
  • Employees who are pregnant or have pregnant spouses or dependents or are preparing to do so
  • Have recently been declined for private wellness insurance coverage
  • Have had an accident within the last 30-60 days
  • Are presently taking pricey medication
  • Have a history of health problems or recent wellness difficulties
  • Individuals who want continued, unchanged wellness insurance coverage and can afford the premiums
    Live in a state
    with out competitive private health insurance selections like New York or New Jersey

Who may want to consider COBRA health insurance alternatives?

  • Have no pre-existing well being conditions
  • Are young and generally wholesome
  • Qualify for a spouse’s wellness insurance strategy
  • Qualify for a state sponsored well being insurance program like Medicaid OR have dependent kids who qualify for state sponsored children’s wellness insurance coverage
  • Aren’t preparing on undergoing any medical procedures in the near future
  • Live in a state with a competitive private well being insurance marketplace like California, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Georgia, Illinois, Oregon, or Washington
  • You qualify for a professional, alumni, or fraternal organization’s wellness insurance coverage
  • You’re under 26 and can gain coverage under a parent’s well being insurance program

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