Unemployment presents many challenges for those who need affordable medical coverage. If you’ve recently found yourself standing in the unemployment line, you already know that you’re not alone. Millions of Americans are in the unfortunate position of being left without a job, without a steady paycheck and, in many cases, no health insurance.
The unemployed are often familiar with COBRA. The law, which was designed to ensure that workers would be able to continue with their group health insurance plan for a set period of time after they have lost their jobs, has been on the books since 1985. Unfortunately, it requires unemployed people to pay all of the costs of their group health insurance, as opposed to the average of 25% which most employees pay while they’re still working.
Most of us only collect 60%-80% of our pay when we’re unemployed.
The fact is that most of can’t afford to shell out over $1,000 per month to continue our health insurance. Unemployed people soon find out that, if you have any health problems at all, you really can’t afford not to have health insurance, either.
So, what should you do if you find yourself unemployed and unable to pay for COBRA?
If your family income and assets are low enough, you may qualify for Medicaid.
If you don’t qualify for Medicaid, do some shopping for a family insurance plan. You can always buy personal health insurance. Contrary to popular belief, this is not necessarily more expensive than group coverage. But, pre-existing conditions may be excluded, however.
Starting in 2014, insurance companies won’t have that option. They’ll be required by federal law to accept and cover you regardless of any pre existing conditions you may have. But, you can’t wait until 2014 to get health insurance.
Health insurance policies come in many shapes and sizes. If you don’t have any conditions which require regular medical treatment, you can often get by with a health insurance policy which isn’t overly expensive, but which will still protect you from financial distress over an unexpected medical emergency.
Whatever you do, don’t go completely without medical insurance. It will cost you every time. Even if you find yourself in a temporary situation where you can’t afford health insurance coverage, look into options such as Medicaid or Medicare coverage, private insurance, or a catastrophic health insurance plan which provides protection against a major illness or injury, at the least.
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