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Health Insurance: Stay Protected Amid Layoffs, Budget Cuts
Date:5/14/2009

for those who worked for small companies through "mini-COBRA" laws. In most cases, you have 60 days to elect coverage. COBRA coverage can be expensive, because you are required to pay the full premium, plus an administrative fee. However, it is also retroactive once you elect it, so use those two months to evaluate other options. Those who lose their jobs because a company goes out of business might not be eligible for COBRA if the company stops its group insurance plan. As part of the newly enacted economic stimulus package, the federal government will pay 65 percent of COBRA extended coverage premiums for workers laid off between Sept. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2009. Employers had until April 18 to notify former staff eligible for this option. There are income limits for subsidy eligibility, however: $125,000 for single adults or $250,000 for couples who file taxes jointly. * Research eligibility for government-sponsored plans: Check to see if you are eligible for insurance through a government program, such as Medicaid or Medicare. For more information, visit www.cms.hhs.gov/home/medicaid.asp or www.medicare.gov. * Purchase a private plan: You can purchase coverage through private providers if you meet certain criteria. A high-deductible major medical policy will cover serious or catastrophic health costs if you cannot afford a comprehensive plan. Just remember, these plans will require you to pay more out-of-pocket costs should you need medical care. * Join a state-sponsored risk pool: For those who have been denied affordable health coverage from a private insurer because of a pre-existing condition, high-risk pools provide the option of purchasing a state-sponsored insurance plan. These types of plans can be an alternative for individuals
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SOURCE National Association of Insurance Commissioners
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