How to get health insurance for the unemployed

If you have lost your job but want to maintain your medical plan, the government pays up to 65% of the cost.

Thousands of people are out of work every month. In a short time, they also lose access to the health system because they cannot afford the insurance. For these cases, the government has subsidies that help pay the monthly fee for the medical plan. The COBRA laws of 1985 and HIPAA of 1996 were designed to mitigate the effects of an economic crisis like the one we are experiencing. These regulations benefit those who recently lost their jobs and need to have a health insurance for unemployed of those who were laid off and want to continue enjoying the medical benefits offered by the employer.

“A long ago that option did not look very attractive to many people because the premium costs were very high, but following the implementation of the president’s economic recovery, the government is helping with 65% of that premium. The person only has to take the remaining 35% out of their pocket to be enrolled in that coverage plan “, explains Diego Giraldo, social services advisor. For Giraldo, these plans seek to reduce the negative impact and the anguish generated by being unemployed and without money. 

COBRA: the option of medical coverage if you lost your job

 If you no longer have the medical coverage your employer gave you, you may have the option to keep it through the “continuity of coverage” program, better known as the COBRA program. This program allows you and your family to keep, for a limited time, the health insurance you received while employed. When your employer stops paying COBRA it is likely that you will have to pay the full cost of the monthly premium (the cost of health insurance).

What you need to know about COBRA coverage

In general, only employers with 20 or more employees are required to offer COBRA. Many states have laws similar to COBRA that regulate employers with fewer than 20 employees.Contact your State Department of Insurance to find out if you are entitled to “continuity of coverage by the state”. If your family was covered by your employer, this coverage could also be maintained under COBRA.In most cases, you should receive a notice from your employer’s health plan administrator telling you that your coverage will end and that you are entitled to COBRA.In most cases, you have 60 days from your last day of coverage to enroll in COBRA.Generally, the program of health insurance for unemployed lasts 18 months but could last up to 36 months.For more information about COBRA, call your employer and find out about your specific options. If you received a health plan through a private employer (not from a government employer), you can call the Department of Labor at 1-866-444-3272.  If you were getting coverage from your health plan through a state or local government employer, you can contact the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid at 1-877-267-2323.  If you received coverage from your health plan as an employee of the federal government, you can visit the website of the Office of Personnel Administration.  You can get personalized attention at a local office for more information about health insurance for unemployed or enroll in a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Can you change COBRA to a Market plan?

During an open registration: if your COBRA is finishing, you can change it. If you cancel COBRA before finishing, you can change and if the costs of COBRA change, you can change to a market plan.

Out of open registration: if your COBRA has finished, you can change. You qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. If you are canceling COBRA before it finishes, you cannot change it until the next Open Enrollment Period, end your COBRA or you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period otherwise. If the costs of COBRA change because the last employer stopped to contribute and you have to make the full payment, you can change. You qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.

Year and a half or until you find work

In most cases, the help is available for 18 months or until the person finds a job and enrolls in a new health plan. “If at the time of losing your job you receive extra money and you have saved money and you are going to do your own business, you can use the Cobra Plan to be covered, it’s a good money to fall for the first 18 months that your business may start to work, “Giraldo explains.

Medicaid and Medicare

For families who lose all of their income, there are other, more generous options, such as Medicaid and Medicare that guarantee medical and hospital care and the supply of medication for children, people over 65 and people with disabilities. It is recommended to search the information of each state, “see what is available” through the Internet or a 1-800 line to find more information on what is the best option for each one. Because in many states there are non-profit organizations that offer low-cost plans for people who cannot access public health services. And always bear in mind that, in light of federal laws, no health insurance company can reject a person because they suffer from a pre-existing disease such as cancer or AIDS.

Resources to pay medical expenses Resources offered by the Government

There are many resources available for people who need help paying for health care services and prescription drug: Medicaid, Medical Insurance Market, Children insurance program, local assistance programs, benefits for the handicap of social security,, etc.

Resources offered by organizations

Financial help for medical treatment, help to pay medicine, clinic studies.

Resources offered by the health centers

If you do not qualify for government assistance, the hospital can offer you a payment or assistance plan.

Resources offered by charitable organizations

If you do not qualify for government assistance, there are charitable organizations that can assist you.

Resources offered by other institutions

 There are universities and research centers that offer free or low-cost dental services.

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