4 Tips When You're Rushed for Health Insurance

Health insurance coverage can be hard to obtain when you are out of work. Even if you have a job, there may be a waiting period when you are not eligible for benefits through the company. Going uninsured in the United States is a huge risk. Even if you do not plan on visiting a doctor, you will need coverage in case of an emergency. There are some options to get covered immediately, even if you do not have benefits through your employer.

#1 Know Your COBRA Rights

The federal government protects you from losing your benefits when you are laid off from your job. COBRA is an extension of the benefits you received through your previous employer. You will be able to remain on the same plan, with the same insurance cards, but you will have to cover the entire expense yourself. Most employers cover around 50% of the expense each month, so this can be pricey if you do not have assistance. The government is working to overcome this by offering up to a 65% reduction for those who have lost their job starting in 2009. 

#2 Consider Month-to-Month Options

If you are waiting for benefits to start with a new position or have another gap in coverage, you may consider month-to-month options with a number of insurance companies. Traditional policies last for the length of a policy year. Changing or canceling this plan requires a qualifying event, such as a marriage or pregnancy. However, if you do not have a qualifying event, you will have to wait until an open enrollment period to change or drop coverage. If getting locked into a plan is not what you need, you can use a month-to-month plan. These plans tend to be more expensive. One way to reduce the expense is to opt for catastrophe only coverage during your insurance gap. 

#3 Look Online

A lot of short-term, catastrophe only plans can be found online. You should take caution when shopping for insurance online because of potential scams. Do not give away your information unless you know who you are working with by verifying the site address and reading reviews. Not all online insurance companies are scams, though. Many are simply low budget options. Your coverage is not likely to be as good as the coverage you can get with a larger PPO or HMO. However, if you have a medical emergency, these options will suffice. 

#4 Get a Certificate of Prior Coverage

Your coverage may be delayed if you have a pre-existing health condition. These delays are not illegal, but they can be unnecessarily burdensome. You may be eligible for a reduction in the wait period if you have a certificate of prior coverage from your last insurance company. This certificate will show the amount you were covered for on your old plan. If this amount is high enough, the new company will consider reducing your waiting period for new coverage. You can usually get this certificate online; or, call your prior insurance company and ask to have one mailed.

blog comments powered by Disqus