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Arizona COBRA Insurance

Posted on: March 26th, 2012 by Cobra Insurance Guide

For anyone living in Arizona who recently quit, lost, or even retired from their job; likely you are thinking about COBRA insurance and what role it could potentially play in your health care future. At the same time, it is likely that you are also trying to understand all your options and find the best one for you and your family. Arizona COBRA insurance may be the best option for that, but there may be other options as well that can provide similar insurance at a much lower cost.

Option 1: Federal COBRA Insurance or Arizona COBRA Insurance

Most people begin their health insurance search by considering COBRA insurance. This makes sense because it is the easiest health insurance option for most people if they qualify. Under COBRA insurance most people who work at companies with 20 or more employees, and who weren’t fired for gross misconduct, will qualify for COBRA health insurance coverage. With COBRA, the employee and their family members are able to keep the exact same health plan for a time normally up to 18 months. The major drawback to COBRA coverage is that the employee must pay for the full cost of health insurance. In most cases this is over $1000 monthly for a family of four. The cost of COBRA is that high because the employer no longer contributes and pays for some of the cost of health insurance.

In some states there are also state sponsored COBRA insurance programs for people who work at smaller companies and want COBRA. Unfortunately the state of Arizona currently does not offer an Arizona COBRA insurance plan. That means if you don’t qualify under the federal plan for COBRA, you will need to seek out alternative insurance.

Option 2: Private Health Insurance

The second option that you should consider when thinking about health insurance is private health insurance. Many people shy away from private health insurance and just sign up for COBRA because they think the price will be too high. However for healthy individuals and families, private health insurance can be much less expensive than COBRA. In fact, a healthy family of four on average saves over $600 monthly by using a private health insurance plan. To learn more about private health insurance, get a free quote and explore the available plans in your area.

The most comprehensive health insurance plans offered by companies will be individual and family plans. In addition there are also very affordable plans for people who only want to be covered for emergencies. These plans are normally known as catastrophic health insurance or high deductible health insurance. They can start as long as about $50 monthly but only cover emergencies.

Option 3: State Sponsored Health Insurance

The last place to look for health insurance after job loss is to explore government sponsored health insurance in Arizona or offered through the federal government. Many times children will qualify for these plan as well seniors. Depending on your income there may be a program available that will offer free or reduced health insurance to you and your family.

Insurance After COBRA

Posted on: March 16th, 2012 by Cobra Insurance Guide

insurance after COBRACOBRA insurance only lasts 18 months for most people and when the end of your COBRA insurance is quickly approaching, many people begin to think about insurance after COBRA.  There are many options for insurance after COBRA but it is important to think through all the options carefully to make sure you choose the right plan for you and your family.  We always recommend starting by getting a free health insurance quote so you have a general idea of what options are out there for you and your family. Taking 5-10 minutes to fill out a quote will open your eyes to what is on the market, the price ranges, and what you should be thinking about for insurance after COBRA.

Option 1:  Private Health Insurance

Then most common insurance that people get after COBRA is private health insurance.  This is normally through a major company and there are health insurance plans of all types depending on your health needs and budget.  The most comprehensive plans available are private individual and family plans which generally offer plans that are very similar to what you had on COBRA insurance.  There are HMOs and PPOs available as well as varying levels of co-payments and deductibles depending on your needs.

The second most popular type of private health insurance plan that people get after COBRA is a short term health insurance plan.  These plans normally have high deductibles and are meant to help cover you in the short term.  These plans can last anywhere from 1 day to about 1 year and normally only cover emergencies.  They are built to help keep you covered in between jobs or other health insurance plans.

The other popular insurance after COBRA is catastrophic health insurance plans which only cover emergencies.  These plans tend to be very inexpensive and only cover medical emergencies.  The deductibles are generally very high and they do not include doctor visits or other care in most cases.  They usually are very affordable since the coverage is minimal.

Option 2:  Government Health Insurance

It is always wise to look into government health insurance as an option for insurance after COBRA.  Many times adults and especially children can be covered by government health insurance plans is your income is below a certain level.  These plans can be offered by the federal or state government.  In addition if you are at or near to retirement age, there is government health insurance you can use.

Option 3:  Health Insurance From New Employment

Finally you can look for a new job that includes health insurance.  Many people do not remember to ask about health insurance when looking at a job but it should be an important consideration.  Even if the job isn’t exactly what you are looking for in the long term, taking a job that has health insurance, especially if you or someone in your family has a preexisting condition can be a smart move.  There are many part time jobs that come with health insurance like working at Starbucks, driving a school bus, or serving as in aid in a public school.  Look at all your options.

 

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.

 

What happens to COBRA Insurance if I move to another state or outside of my coverage area?

Posted on: April 16th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

FamilyMany people find themselves considering moving when they lose their job and are continuing their coverage under COBRA health insurance.  Whether or not you are able to continue to maintain your health insurance coverage under COBRA insurance laws is 100% dependent on your current health insurance plan under COBRA, which is the same as you had with your previous employer.

So what does that mean exactly?  It depends.  You will want to reach out to your health insurance provider and find out if the current policy you have extends outside of the area or state in which you live.  Some health insurance plans only work in the state or area in which you live, mostly HMOs, and some extend coverage all across the country.  If your plan is limited to doctors and hospitals in your immediate vicinity, likely your COBRA insurance coverage will not extend to another state.  However, if your insurance plan does work in other regions and states, it still will.  Reach out to your health insurance provider, explain your circumstances, and they will let you know what your options are under COBRA insurance.

Steps to Take When You Lose Your Job and Consider Signing Up For COBRA

Posted on: April 10th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Medical InvoiceLosing your job can be incredibly stressful, as can be the looming costs of signing up to continue health insurance coverage under COBRA insurance which can be incredibly expensive, running many families upwards of $1,000/month.  So what do you do if you lose your job and are getting ready to enroll in the costly COBRA insurance continuation plan?

  1. Reduce Costs: When you lose your job, one of the most important things to do whether or not you elect to sign up for COBRA insurance is to reduce costs.  Think about where you can cut back  – eating out less, shopping less, buying generic products, traveling less, reducing utility bills, and more – examine your budget closely and find ways to cut costs.  This will be important not only because you will have less income coming in but also because you will soon be facing an expensive COBRA insurance premium bill to keep your health insurance.
  2. Explore Other Options: COBRA insurance is not the only health insurance option out there.  There are many alternative health insurance plans that may offer less expensive health insurance plans.  You should consider individual health insurance plans, private family health insurance, catastrophic insurance, short term health insurance, and high deductible health insurance.  Explore each option carefully and compare it to COBRA.  Consider your age, health, and any pre-existing conditions or ongoing medical needs.
  3. Check out Governmental Insurance Programs: The state and federal government offer many insurance plans that can benefit adults, seniors, and children who are under a specific income level.  Check out both federal and state run insurance programs to find out who in your family can qualify.  In many states, you will find that your children can qualify for state run medical insurance plans that will dramatically cut your expenses.
  4. Consider a Spouse’s Insurance Plan: Have you thought about your spouse’s health insurance options?  You may have previously had your family covered under your plan because it was better or less expensive, but now it is time to look into your spouse’s options.  Explore the costs and enrollment time and requirements for your spouse’s insurance.  Likely it will be less expensive to add people to their plan than continue insurance under COBRA long term or find a new plan.
  5. File for Disability Immediately if it is an Option: If you are losing your job due to a disability, you should immediately file for Social Security and disability.  This will help you to get through tough times and many times help to cover insurance plans.  If you are not sure if you are eligible under Social Security or Disability law, check with the Department of Labor to learn more.

Your Employer’s Legal Requirements for COBRA Insurance

Posted on: April 7th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Your Employer’s Legal Requirements for COBRA InsuranceIf you recently lost your job or quit your job and are curious about your employer’s requirement according to the COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985), there are two main requirements you should be aware of so you can make sure that your employer is fulfilling their legal obligation.

First, your employer must provide an initial notice in which your rights and obligations in reference to continuing to receive health insurance coverage under COBRA.  This will explain exactly what COBRA insurance looks like for you and what it will take to enroll in COBRA insurance and continue to receive health insurance benefits under COBRA.

Secondly, your employer must provide a notice of qualifying events that explain exactly what the event was that triggered your loss of health insurance coverage.  This could be the voluntarily or involuntarily event that triggered medical insurance loss including quitting, being laid off, or having your hours reduced to a point that you no longer qualify for medical insurance.

If your employer does not satisfactorily provide these two notices, or mishandles the forms in anyway, there is a source for litigation and liability on behalf of the employer and/or health insurance provider.  If you believe these forms have been deficient, not provided, or mishandled in any way, you can contact should contact the Department of Labor and file an official complaint form and/or reach out to an attorney.

Key Questions to Ask Your Employer About COBRA Insurance When You Quit

Posted on: April 4th, 2011 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Key Questions to Ask Your Employer About COBRA Insurance When You QuitMany people don’t realize that you are eligible for COBRA Insurance benefits and to maintain your health insurance under the COBRA insurance law whether you are laid off from your job or if you quit.  The law covers any voluntarily or involuntarily loss of employment as long as there is no evidence of gross misconduct.  So if you quit, what should you be asking your employer when you turn in your resignation and during your final days on the job.  There are some important questions to ask to ensure you have the option to continue your health insurance coverage under COBRA

1.  What is the full cost of my current medical insurance premium?

For many people one of the most important things they need to know  to determine if they will in fact enroll in COBRA  insurance to maintain their health insurance is the cost.  And surprisingly most people could not actually tell you how much they or their company pays for their health insurance plan.  It is important to ask your company what the exact cost of health insurance is, meaning the full premium cost.  Once you know that amount, you can calculate what your monthly cost would be with COBRA insurance.  It will be that amount plus a 2% administration fee under the federal law.

2.  Are you eligible for federal or state run COBRA insurance?

Since you must meet certain eligibility requirements to qualify for COBRA insurance continuation at the federal level, and state level if your state also offers COBRA insurance, you want to ask your employer if you qualify.  They are required by state to know this information and provide it to you.  Generally, at the federal level companies who insure 20 people or more (or their part time equivalent) will be eligible for COBRA continuation insurance and at the state level many times it is companies who insure between 2-19 employees or their part time equivalents.

3.  Does your company offer any COBRA insurance alternatives or health insurance continuation options?

Some health insurance plans and some companies offer their own equivalent to COBRA insurance which many times is significantly cheaper than COBRA.  The terms themselves may differ as many the length of coverage, but your company or health insurance company, may offer their own continuation plan.  This is especially true if you are laid off and there is a contractual obligation for the company to pay their percentage of the premium through the length of your contract.  With that said, some companies offer it on their own as a part of severance packages or as good will.

4.  Is the company planning on changing the health insurance policy or dropping health insurance in the near future?

Under the current COBRA insurance law, you will still be eligible for COBRA insurance if your company changes it’s health insurance plan or policy, but you will be responsible for any additional costs under that change.  That means, if the company decided to go with a more expensive provider, you will be responsible under COBRA to pay the increased rate.  It also means if the plan changes, it will also change for you.  This can be important to consider if you are calculating costs or considering alternate plans.  If your company is planning on dropping health insurance altogether in the near future, that unfortunately means that you will also lose your COBRA insurance continuation.  If the company envisions that will happen soon, you may be better off finding a new medical insurance provider from the start.

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