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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.



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