If you're at risk of losing your health insurance due to nonpayment or because of job loss, there are things you can do to avoid being dropped, or to ease the burden of being dropped -- but you have to start now.
Before You're Dropped
- Find out if you have a grace period. If you have coverage through the Affordable Care Act, you may have a 90 day grace period. Contact your insurance provider as soon as possible and ask about your options.
- If you can afford it, schedule your preventative care, routine visits, and immunizations for the family before you're dropped. This gives you some grace period as well, though it's not ideal to go without health insurance for any amount of time.
- Look into COBRA coverage, which is a federal law that may let individuals pay to remain on employee health insurance plans for up to 18 months after the job ends.
- Shop around. Look into new insurance coverage before you lose your current coverage. This will decrease the amount of time you're not covered and help you get the best plan possible.
- Plan for the worst by looking into providers that let you pay in cash. Many local clinics offer a sliding fee based on your income for uninsured patients.
Enrolling in New Insurance
- Shop the Marketplace. If you lose job-based coverage, you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period that allows you to enroll outside of the the regular open enrollment period.
- Apply for Medicaid in your state. This program is available to qualifying families that meet income and ability guidelines. Medicaid is generally made available to children, pregnant women, and the disabled.
- Consider a short term health insurance plan. Many health insurance companies offer qualifying short term healthcare plans. These plans can be purchased for special circumstances such as pregnancy, or can be used to cover a gap in coverage. Most temporary plans are highly customizable and accepted by most healthcare providers.
- Consider discounts at the pharmacy! Many manufacturers offer discounts on brands throughout the year, and many physicians will provide samples of medications based on availability.
When it's time to find your new health insurance plan, you don't have to depend on the Health Insurance Marketplace. Use the Healthcare Finder, provided by the federal government, to find a plan that is right for you, outside of the Marketplace. Besides avoiding tax penalties at the end of the year, you can benefit from the assurance that your family is covered, come what may. Even if your healthcare plan doesn't include a prescription plan, you can get the medications and medical products at a discount, using a service like Pharmaquotes.com.
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