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Losing my dependent status – what are my options?

Posted on: November 7th, 2012 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Dear COBRA Insurance Benefits –

I am on the verge of losing my dependent status and have no idea what to do for health insurance. I have been on my parent’s insurance plan forever and am currently unemployed so there is no option for insurance from a company. The plan I have with them is really comprehensive, it seems like everything is included. But with that said I hardly ever use anything unless I randomly catch something. I would say I have used the coverage probably once in the last three years. I am pretty healthy in general.

With that said I am not willing to totally give up all coverage and cross my fingers that nothing happens. I want to have some type of coverage so that I am protected. What options should I be considering? Is COBRA a good choice?

Thanks

Dear No Longer A Child

Losing your dependent status can be a tricky time and it is hard to know what type of plan to sign up for. The good thing is that you are one step ahead of the pack since you are already thinking about your health insurance and know how important it is to keep some sort of plan in place. Based on what you shared, here are some potential options for you ranging from least expensive to most expensive.

  • Catastrophic or High Deductible Insurance: This is going to be the least expensive option when it comes to health insurance but will also provide the least amount of coverage. A catastrophic plan and high deductible plan are similar and basically will only cover emergency medical needs. For any other medical need you will need to pay out of pocket for the treatment. However it does ensure you are safe in case of anything serious and can be very affordable, starting at around $40 monthly.
  • Private Individual Insurance Plan: The next option if you want more comprehensive coverage will be a private individual policy. These plans more closely resemble regular employer sponsored plans and can be very affordable for someone who is young and healthy. In fact they start at around $100 monthly and can include pretty comprehensive coverage.
  • COBRA Insurance: Finally the last option, but definitely most expensive, is COBRA. With COBRA you would be able to continue to use the same health insurance plan you have with your parents for up to 36 months. The catch is that you must pay the entire premium plus 2% to keep the plan. On average this runs about $400 or more monthly. To find out exactly how much COBRA would cost for you, it is necessary to contact the plan administrator and tell them you are interested in signing up for COBRA and need to know the costs. Likely this will trigger them to send you an enrollment letter which will state the exact cost of the plan.

Going to be laid off and worried about health insurance?

Posted on: October 31st, 2012 by Cobra Insurance Guide

cobra-insurance-copayments

Many times people are surprised by job loss and don’t have the time to plan their next move. But for some people they know when job loss is coming and have time to plan ahead. It is important for people in this situation to have a strong plan in place for their health insurance coverage before they lose their jobs. Make sure to take these steps before the last day of your health insurance coverage.

Preparing for Insurance Loss

  • Know Your Health Insurance End Date: This may seem like an obvious step but many people forget to find out exactly when their employer health coverage will end. Depending on your company and its policies, your insurance could end the last day of your employment, the last day of the health plan billing cycle, or you could have a grace period of 2-8 weeks provided by your employer. Knowing this day is critical so you understand when to start your new plan.
  • Negotiate Your Benefits Package: Many people negotiate benefits packages when they are accepting a new job, but you should also try to negotiate when you are losing your job. Many companies have the ability to offer severance or job loss packages that may include health benefits. This could include the company paying your COBRA insurance costs for weeks or months after losing your job. Always ask about the possibilities – there is nothing to lose.
  • Know Your COBRA Insurance Options: The first step in determining what insurance plan you will use after job loss is finding out if you qualify for COBRA insurance and how much it will cost. For people who do qualify for either a state or federal COBRA plan, this could be a viable option for health insurance coverage.
  • Consider Private Insurance: In addition to finding out if you qualify for COBRA, you should also fully explore your options for private health insurance. Private health insurance plans can usually offer a lower cost option to COBRA and for people who are generally healthy, almost the same coverage. You can get a free quote when you explore plans which can help you price out plans and understand your options.
  • Explore a Spouse’s Plan: Find out if you qualify for your spouse’s plan and what kind of coverage it offers. Since employers subsidize so much of health insurance costs, if your spouses has a plan it can offer the most cost effective option. However always make sure to inquire about the open enrollment date and when new participants can be added to the plan. Some companies have very strict policies and spouses can only be added during open enrollment once per month.
  • Consider Government Plans: The last thing to explore is if you or any family members can qualify for a government or community plan that is low cost. In most states children are eligible for reduced cost health care. Having children on a state plan can significantly reduce the overall costs for the family. Additionally depending on your health condition and age, you may qualify for other plans in your state.

Lost Your Job? Are You Considering COBRA Insurance?

Posted on: May 24th, 2012 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Stethoscope and Pen

For people who lost their job or were laid off, COBRA insurance is usually an option to continue health care for the employee and their family.

In most cases if your former health insurance plan covered 20 employees or more and the company is still in business, you can qualify for COBRA insurance under the 1986 federal law. This coverage lasts for 18 months in most cases and came about to protect people in your situation from suddenly going without health insurance coverage.

According to the federal COBRA law, when you are laid off your employer has 14 days to notify you in writing about your rights under COBRA. From there, you have 60 days to decide if you want to enroll in the coverage. If you do not sign up within that 60 day period or pay the premium, you will lose the right to coverage.

COBRA Insurance and Health Reform

In March of 2012, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress to help ensure that more Americans have access to affordable health insurance and ensure people can actually get coverage. Under this law in 2014 there will be state run health insurance exchanges that people can use to purchase affordable health care. This law will not change COBRA insurance coverage in anyway, but it will likely decrease the amount of people who choose to use COBRA insurance.

The Cost of COBRA Insurance

With COBRA you get the exact same coverage that you had with your employer but the main difference is that you are responsible for paying the entire premium plus a 2% administration fee. This cost for most people is very expensive and normally runs over $1000/month for families. This is because most employers pay for up to 90% of the health insurance costs of their employees.

What Can I Do if COBRA Insurance is Too Expensive?

Most people can’t afford COBRA insurance. It is very expensive and most people who need it just got laid off so that kind of expense is unimaginable. According to some statistics COBRA insurance can eat up 60-70% of someone’s unemployment check leaving almost no room for other expenses. However luckily there are other options to explore if you can’t afford COBRA insurance. If you can’t afford COBRA insurance you should explore state and federal insurance programs like Medicaid and CHIP, private insurance which is normally much less expensive (you can get a quote below), and community health programs that provide free and reduced cost care.

California COBRA Insurance – Cal COBRA Insurance

Posted on: April 2nd, 2012 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Stethoscope and Pen

Knowing the difficulty of job loss and health insurance, following the federal government’s lead, California created it’s own mini COBRA insurance plan known as California COBRA insurance, or Cal-COBRA insurance. This plan, much like federal COBRA insurance, was set up to make sure people didn’t suddenly go without health insurance after they quit, lost, or retired from their job. In addition the law protected people losing health insurance from divorce or from losing dependent status as well. Under both the federal and Cal COBRA insurance laws, people have the option to continue to use their employer sponsored health plan for up to 18 months in most cases if they meet the requirements in the law. That means that they could keep the exact same doctors, prescription plans, co-pays, and deductibles. The catch? Under COBRA and Cal-COBRA, the individual or family who signs up for COBRA is responsible for paying the entire premium without any subsidy from the employer. In addition, they also must pay a 2% administration fee.

Understanding Federal COBRA Insurance

Under the federal COBRA insurance bill, in order to qualify for COBRA insurance you must meet three requirements known as qualifying plan, qualifying event, and qualifying beneficiaries. The qualifying plan refers to the type of health insurance plan that you had while you were employed. For federal COBRA insurance, this plan must have covered at least 20 employees to be eligible. The second requirement, known as qualifying event, refers to the way that you lost health insurance coverage. In most cases if you lost, quit, or retired from your job and there was not gross misconduct you will qualify. This also includes spouses who are losing coverage due to divorce and children who are losing health insurance due to losing dependent status. The final criteria, qualifying beneficiaries, refers to who is able to elect COBRA insurance. In most instances anyone who was on the health insurance plan will be able to be on COBRA insurance.

Understanding Cal COBRA Insurance

Cal COBRA was created to make sure that more people in the state of California could qualify for COBRA insurance if they wanted it. Essentially what the Cal COBRA law does is extend the benefits to people working at companies with between 2-19 employees. It also at times extends beyond typical COBRA insurance coverage and may last up to 36 months. Like federal COBRA insurance, an individual or family must pay the entire cost of the health insurance plan plus a 2% administration fee to keep coverage.

Cheaper Options to COBRA Insurance and Cal-COBRA

Since COBRA insurance can be so expensive, usually around $1000 for a family of four, it is important to consider other health insurance plans that may be more affordable. This is especially true if you and your family are relatively healthy. Many people find by looking at private health insurance cost they can save up to $600 a month on their health insurance costs. The easiest way to find out what you might qualify for – get a free health insurance quote online and explore your options. It will show you what plans you are eligible for and their costs.

Arkansas COBRA Insurance

Posted on: March 31st, 2012 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Arkansas COBRA Insurance

For anyone who recently lost, quit, or even retired from their job figuring out what to do next for health insurance can be a tricky decision. Moreover, COBRA insurance legislation is confusing and many times it is hard to understand what options are out there. Understanding federal COBRA insurance, Arkansas COBRA insurance, and private health insurance plans is important so that you can make a decision for your family’s health insurance and budget.

Option 1: Federal COBRA Insurance, Cost for a Family: $1000+

The first option for individuals or families looking for health insurance coverage after job loss or retirement is COBRA insurance if they meet the federal requirements. Under the federal requirements most people who worked at a company with at least 20 employees on their health insurance plan will be eligible as long as they didn’t lose their job due to gross misconduct. Under the federal COBRA insurance plan you can keep the exact same health insurance plan that you had with your employer but you must pay the full cost for it. The full cost is what you normally contributed to your health insurance plan plus anything your employer paid. For most people this is between 60-90% of the health insurance cost. On top of paying the entire premium, you also must pay a 2% administration fee. For most families this ends up being $1000 or more monthly.

Under COBRA insurance you keep the exact same health insurance plan you had when you were employed for up to 18 months in most cases. It is meant to help you in the interim and make sure you do not go without health insurance. The coverage extends to your family and other dependents who were on your health insurance plan. Furthermore it can also extend to people losing insurance due to divorce or adult children losing coverage due to age.

Option 2: Arkansas COBRA Insurance, Cost for a Family: $1000+

The second option for someone in need of health insurance after job loss is Arkansas COBRA insurance. The state of Arkansas created its own COBRA insurance program for people who don’t qualify for the federal plan. The cost of Arkansas COBRA insurance is just about the same as federal COBRA because you will be responsible for the entire premium on your own. In addition there is a 2% administration fee. Arkansas COBRA insurance normally allows you to keep your employer sponsored health insurance plan for up to 18 months.

Option 3: Private Family Insurance Plan, Cost for a Family: $400+

The last and most affordable option in most cases is choosing a private individual or family health insurance plans. These plans are offered by private companies and normally are much less expensive than COBRA for similar coverage. The reason these plans can be so much cheaper is because they are only covering your family, not everyone you work with. If you are healthy that means a lower risk for the insurance company and therefore a lower rate. Most people find they can save over $600 a month by choosing a private health insurance plan. To find out what your options might be, you can get a free health insurance quote.

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.

COBRA Health Insurance

Posted on: March 21st, 2012 by Cobra Insurance Guide

cobra-insurance-copaymentsCOBRA health insurance is a term that is often heard in workplace conversations, on the television, and in unemployment circles but few people can actually tell you what COBRA health insurance really is. In fact many Human Resources workers who deal with workplace health insurance daily, struggled to say much more about COBRA health insurance than it is something people can use after losing their job. COBRA health insurance actually involves a lot more than that and it is extremely important for anyone who recently lost, quit, or retired from their job to fully understand it. It can also benefit anyone going through a divorce or who will soon lose their dependent child status.

What is COBRA Health Insurance?

COBRA health insurance is a law, not an insurance plan, that was passed by the United States government in 1986 to prevent people from suddenly losing their health insurance. The law states that if they choose to employees and their families can continue to use their prior employer’s group health insurance plan for up to 18 months in most cases. The health insurance plan under COBRA health insurance will stay exactly the same but the major difference will be that the employee must pay the full cost. Normally this is at least double what the employee paid while employed since most companies subsidize health insurance costs.

Who Can Use COBRA Health Insurance?

Under the COBRA health insurance there are three conditions that must be met in order for an employee and/or their family members to qualify for COBRA – qualifying plan, qualifying event, and qualifying beneficiaries. The first condition known as qualifying plan refers to the type of group health insurance plan that the employee had while employed. In most cases the person will qualify for COBRA health if the plan covered at least 20 full time employees or their part time equivalents. The second condition, known as qualifying event, refers to why health insurance is being lost. Most people qualify for COBRA health insurance under this condition if they quit, retired from, or lost their job without serious misconduct. Spouses can also qualify if they are losing their health insurance due to death of the covered employee or divorce from the covered employee. Adult children who are losing their dependent status, normally at 26, can also qualify. The final condition, qualifying beneficiaries, refers to who is eligible to get COBRA health insurance. In most cases anyone who was covered on the plan before can be covered with COBRA.

Are There Less Expensive Alternatives to COBRA Health Insurance?

There very well be more affordable alternatives to COBRA health insurance depending on your health insurance needs. For people who are relatively healthy, private insurance plans are usually much more affordable than COBRA. In fact on average people save about 65%, or over $600 monthly, by choosing a private individual or family plan. The best way to learn about private health insurance options is to get a free quote and explore. It takes about 1 minute to get a quote and start learning what is out there.

Finding Health Insurance On Your Own

Posted on: March 19th, 2012 by Cobra Insurance Guide

Finding-Health-InsuranceFor anyone who is out of work, self employed, employed without health insurance, or in need of health insurance for any other reason, there are ways to find affordable health insurance that will provide you with the coverage you need as well as the piece of mind you want. Find health insurance on your own is a very important step to take because none of us can predict when a medical emergency may strike so we always want to be prepared. If you need to find health insurance on your own, here are some options to consider.

1.  COBRA Insurance:  COBRA insurance is a solid option for anyone who previously had health insurance with their job and meets the COBRA insurance requirements.  Most people do find that they are eligible for COBRA insurance which lets you continue your previous health insurance from your employer.  What many people don’t realize is that COBRA insurance can also be used by spouses going through a divorce who were covered under their spouse’s plan, children who no longer qualify as dependents, and even retirees.  COBRA insurance usually lasts for 18 months but in some cases can be extended for 36 months.

2.  United States Uninsured Help Line:  In the United States, the nonprofit group Foundation for Health Coverage Education is dedicated to helping people find health insurance options and understand what is available to them.  Based on your age, gender, household income, and health needs they will help you understand what plans you should consider as well as if you are eligible for state health insurance plans.  You can call them at (800) 234-1317.

3.  Independent Agents:  Athough many people are nervous and intimidated to call a private agent, mostly because we are worried we can’t trust them, sometimes they are the best place to turn.  Although they usually make a commission when they sell you insurance, they are very knowledgeable about what is available, what you will qualify for, and what options you should consider.  Also remember that just because you meet with an insurance agent does not mean you have to sign up for health insurance with them.  We always recommend getting a free health insurance quote on your own first so you know what to ask and what to look for.

4.  Preexisting Condition Plans:  In 2010 healthcare reform legislation was passed that created preexisting condition plans for people with preexisting conditions.  In the past most people found that if they has a serious condition they had no health insurance options but this is no longer the case.  You must have been without health insurance for at least 6 months to qualify for this type of plan.

5.  Healthcare.gov:  Many people like to use government websites to start their health insurance search because they believe the information is accurate and unbiased, which it is mostly.  One such site for health insurance options is Healthcare.gov which will ask you to answer a series of questions and then provide you with health insurance options from private companies.  You can also do this through EHealthInsurance and start getting health insurance quotes now.

 

 

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.

 

COBRA Insurance Cost Reduction

Posted on: March 14th, 2012 by Cobra Insurance Guide

reduce cobra insurance costsLosing or quitting a job is extremely stressful.  For most people money is tight and they are worried about their financial future.  And then they find out how much COBRA insurance costs and in many cases begin to panic.  Rightfully so.  COBRA insurance costs over $1000 monthly for most families and after losing a job this is an expense that most people simply can’t afford.  Luckily there are many other options out there that can help with COBRA insurance cost reduction.

Before we look at ways to reduce the cost of COBRA insurance, let’s first look at why COBRA insurance is so expensive.  In any workplace there are people are varying ages with varying degrees of health needs.  There likely are people who need constant medical care and may have ongoing, serious medical needs, and people who are generally healthy and hardly ever use their health insurance plan.  A group health insurance plan at an employer has to cover all people which drives the costs up.  Since the health insurance plan inevitably will cover people with preexisting conditions or at risk for expensive and serious health conditions, the health insurance plan is expensive.  If you are generally healthy, likely there are much more affordable options out there for you and your family.  And even if you are not generally healthy, there still may be ways to reduce the cost of COBRA insurance.

1.  Consider COBRA Insurance Alternatives to Save Up to 65%

Many people think that private health insurance plans are extremely expensive due to the news and all the coverage about the outrageous expense of health insurance.  However, for people who are in generally good health, health insurance plans can be affordable and are almost always much cheaper than COBRA insurance.  The easiest way to learn what other health insurance options are out there is to get a free quote that will provide you with multiple options from multiple companies at all price points.  Exploring these plans gives you an idea of how much a private health insurance plan would cost and what it would include.  Most people find that they can get almost identical coverage for about 65% less (or over $600 less per month) by choosing a COBRA insurance alternative.

2.  Choose COBRA ONLY for Family Members with Preexisting Conditions or Serious Health Needs

Many times if someone in your family has a preexisting or serious medical condition, you automatically think that COBRA insurance is your only option.   You are partially right.  In most cases, COBRA insurance will be the most cost effective health insurance plan for the person with the preexisting condition since they likely won’t qualify for other health insurance plans.  However, that doesn’t mean that the whole family needs to sign up for COBRA insurance.  You can choose to only have the person with the preexisting condition on COBRA and sign everyone else up for a less expensive health insurance plan.  This is possible whether or not the person with the preexisting health condition is the former employee or not.  It is possible to just keep a spouse or child on COBRA and move the rest of the family to a new plan.

 

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