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Healthy, (Less) Wealthy, But Wise
Health insurance might not be on the forefront of your mind after a job loss. Instead, wondering how paper clips traveled to the bottom of the desk drawer you’re emptying or chastising yourself for never throwing away a single piece of paper might seem more appealing than facing reality. Luckily (or perhaps not-so…) you have a lot of free time to analyze your options.
First, can you switch to the plan of a spouse or member of your family? If so, pump your fist in the air! What a sweet deal. Take him or her out to dinner (or might be best to save money and eat in).
Secondly, you can keep your current coverage going through COBRA. This reptilian acronym actually stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (don’t try to say that three times fast, it’s too hard). You have two months after your job ends to pick up COBRA.
Premiums for individuals using COBRA are around $400, and the cost for families rises to $1,000, says Karen Pollitz, a Georgetown research professor. Only 20% of people eligible for COBRA actually use it, though. Perhaps that high price tag is a deterrent?
Other options for health coverage include trade groups, associations, and maybe even your church. Beware though, as individual policies usually don’t cover pre-existing conditions. Medicaid might be an option for low-income families with children.
Even if the strain on your budget seems too much, going without coverage for even a few months is hazardous and, in the wake of a health crisis, could cripple your financial future.
Any tips we overlooked? Have you ever gone without health insurance, and if so, how many times did you look both ways before crossing the street? [AP News]