A Job Change Could Qualify You for a Special Enrollment Period
If you’ve had a change in your employment situation, you may have experienced a qualifying life event. This means that you would enter a 60-day Special Enrollment Period, during which you would have the opportunity to enroll in a plan for yourself, or you and your family.
Changes in your employment can be very confusing, especially when something as important as health insurance is attached to your employment through benefits. Let’s show you some examples of “job change” that could be a qualifying life event that would trigger a Special Enrollment Period:
- Reduction of hours that leads to your health benefits being cut;
- Being laid off;
- Quitting your job for any reason; or
- Losing your job for any reason;
Basically, any change that leads to you losing coverage on your employer’s group health plan is a qualifying life event.
Another thing you need to remember when losing an employer’s group health plan is the COBRA law. COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. It is a law that gives employees the right to pay premiums for and keep the group health insurance that they would otherwise lose when their employment is terminated, by either the employer or the employee for reasons other than “gross misconduct.” Remember that this only applies to employers who offered group health plans and have more than 20 employees. COBRA information is usually mailed to you by your previous employer and should arrive within 45 days of the termination date.
You can elect for COBRA in any of the situations listed above as well, but before you elect COBRA, you need to keep two things in mind:
- COBRA continuation is very expensive! Instead of just paying a part of the premium, and your employer paying most of it, if you elect for COBRA, your payment= your contribution + your employer’s contribution + a 2% administrative fee. That totals 102% of the premium.
- You must use all 18 or 36 months of COBRA. You can stop paying for your expensive premiums, or cancel COBRA continuation or coverage at any time, BUT you must remember that voluntarily quitting other health coverage or being terminated from a health plan for not paying premiums is NOT a qualifying life event. That means you would NOT be eligible for a Special Enrollment Period and would not be able to enroll in a qualified health plan.
To learn more about COBRA continuation, you can visit COBRA Insurance.com. It’s a great resource on COBRA Law that has an FAQ page, a place where you can ask questions, and even find quotes for alternatives to COBRA insurance.
If you know you’re in a Special Enrollment Period now, you can sign up for a health plan! You will need to make sure you have the supporting documentation. In this case it might be a termination letter from your employer, pay stubs if your hours have been reduced, or a letter from your employer stating that they are no longer paying for your health insurance.
If you prefer to shop online, click here for a quote and to learn how to enroll. If you’re more comfortable talk to someone, feel free to call us at 1-877-279-7959.
Still Confused? Unsure if you qualify?
Don’t worry! We can help you sort everything out, determine if you qualify, and find a plan that covers you and your family! If you have any questions, need help, or just prefer to speak with someone, feel free to call us at 1-877-279-7959.