Chelsey Tucker graduated with a Bachelor of History degree from Metropolitan State University in 2019. She now writes about insurance with her specialty being life insurance and has been quoted on Help Smart Phone and MEL Magazine.

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Dan Walker graduated with a BS in Administrative Management in 2005 and has been working in his family’s insurance agency, FCI Agency, for 15 years. He is licensed as an agent to write property and casualty insurance, including home, auto, umbrella, and dwelling fire insurance. He’s also been featured on sites like Reviews.com.

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Reviewed by Daniel Walker
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 19, 2020

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The lowdown...

  • Study all options that may be available from the former employer and the new employer
  • Consider a short-term approach if necessary
  • Do not risk being without health insurance for any period of time
  • Securing health insurance should be a top priority

The route to securing insurance when changing jobs will depend on many factors. The various scenarios that will be available to you must be carefully reviewed. The overall goal should be to have insurance at the moment you leave your former employer, whether you already have a new job waiting for you or if you are going to be unemployed for an unknown period of time.

Sometimes, this may be a seamless change. You work for company A, with good health care coverage. You get a job offer from company B. You depart company A with a friendly relationship. You gave adequate notice, and you are doing everything you can to make the transition easier.

In other cases, the change in insurance providers for an individual or family may change for a number of reasons. The new employer may not offer company insurance.

There may be a delay in the transition from the old job to the new job. You may lose your job and are unemployed for weeks or even months.

Finally, if you are unable to make the seamless transition from the old job to the new job, you may be facing a significant increase in the amount of money you will spend for insurance coverage.

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Being Without Insurance May be More Costly than Buying Insurance

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It is impossible to predict when a medical emergency will arise for you or any family member. An emergency-room visit, an overnight stay in the hospital and various tests can cost thousands of dollars.Therefore, it is important to consider the possible options such as:

  • Taking steps to secure the seamless transfer from one employer to another
  • Becoming a dependent that is being covered by a spouse’s health policy
  • The utilization of the Consolidate Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) so that current group insurance coverage can be continued
  • Purchase a policy from the Obamacare Marketplace
  • Exploring the possibility of purchasing a short-term or temporary health care policy
  • Taking steps to secure health care coverage through a working spouse
  • Exploring the possibility of purchasing a short-term or temporary health care policy
  • Securing Medicaid assistance, if you meet the economic requirements

The Nest is offers an explanation of issues connecting with health insurance when changing jobs. A primary point that this website makes is to examine all your options and compare the cost of the coverage to an unexpected accident or serious illness that is totally unpredictable.

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Considering the Health Care Options

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Today there are certain advantages to securing health insurance when between jobs. For example, as a result of the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, no one can be denied insurance coverage for prior health conditions. While this was usually not an issue with employer-provided group policies, it was an issue when individuals and families were purchasing heath care policies.

During the 2016 U.S. Presidential election campaign, the debate indicated that Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, would possibly be in jeopardy. Once the election was over, the President-Elect, Donald Trump, indicated that Obamacare may see some changes but the core of it would stay intact.

Particularly, it is apparent that regardless of any other possible changes, the sections preventing an insurance company from refusing coverage because of prior health conditions will remain. This is significant, because as people age, they are more likely to have a one or more health issues.

Purchasing an Obamacare Policy

Policies available under the Affordable Care Act are provided by private insurance companies and subsidized for the individuals covered by the federal government. The cost of the policy will depend on the number of persons being covered by one policy, the level of coverage being sought and the amount of the federal subsidy provided. The subsidy will depend on the family income and the number of persons being covered.

Understanding COBRA

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COBRA is a federal program that “requires most group health plans to provide a temporary continuation of group health coverage that otherwise might be terminated,” according to a Department of Labor website.

The primary function of COBRA, or the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, is to require the continuation of coverage to be offered to covered employees, spouses, former spouses and dependent children when group health coverage is no longer available. Individuals who exercise this option may be required to pay the full premium.

COBRA does not provide insurance. Instead, it provides the options for people who lose their job and health coverage to have the right to continue that coverage.

It is important to understand that while all the provisions of the group policy will be continued, COBRA is only effective for 18 months after termination. Thus, it has to be looked upon as a bridge that covers the span of time from losing a job to finding another job with health care benefits or purchasing insurance directly from a licensed provider.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, there are other provisions when the dismissed employee will become eligible for the 18 months. The site notes that the spouse and any qualifying dependents may be eligible for the continuation of COBRA for up to 36 months after the date the employee became entitled to Medicare.

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Utilizing Dependent Coverage

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In situations where both spouses are employed and have available insurance coverage, the situation becomes easier to handle, at least for a while.

If a husband loses his job, and his wife has a job with full benefits, it is highly probable that he and any eligible children can be carried as a dependent on the wife’s policy. This should be viewed as a temporary solution. If the husband’s company fired him for whatever reason, there is always the possibility that the wife may be dismissed by her company.

There is also the possibility if one spouse is employed in a job that is less than full-time and therefore, is not eligible for insurance. This is not a fault of the spouse. It is just the way some businesses operate. Thus, if growing tired of a job, or sensing that a change is in the wind, do rely only on being covered by the spouse’s insurance—it may not be available.

Short-Term Policies

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Insurance policies are available that will provide coverage for a limited period of time, without the full benefits offered by a regular health plan.

These plans are offered to individuals who are unable to pay the cost of full health coverage. Purchase of the short term policy will provide some protection. However, there are limitations. For example, agilehealthcare.com notes that the short-term policies, usually available for one year or less, can provide some basic coverage but notes the following potential shortfalls:

  • Prior conditions can be used to deny coverage.
  • As a result of the Affordable Care Act, persons enrolled in temporary health insurance will be subject to a tax penalty.
  • Vision, dental care, and preventive coverage are excluded from most plans.
  • There is no guarantee that a plan can be renewed.
  • Persons who are eligible for COBRA benefits may lose that eligibility if they purchase a short-term plan.

Therefore, it is necessary to review all possible options before enrolling in a short-term plan.

Government Assistance

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There is assistance from the federal and state governments in the event not of the above options are not available for financial reasons.

Medicaid has numerous restrictions and is not something that can be acquired in a single day. Numerous tests have to be met and information provided. Medicaid is not available for family coverage. Each individual in a family could possibly be covered, but each would have to meet all the tests associated with the application process.

With Medicaid, there is no premium and if accepted, health care providers cannot charge any additional fees or co-pays. However, all doctors do not accept Medicaid because the amount of the benefit is usually much lower that what would normally be charged.

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Conclusion

When switching jobs there are a lot of things to consider such as location, salary, possible relocation and other issues, there is one more thing to consider. Having adequate health coverage should rank high on the list of priorities.

Enter your zip below and compare all your available options; no budget is too small nor health problem too great. There’s a plan out there that’s affordable and beneficial for you.