A Job Loss Could Qualify You for a Special Enrollment Period
If you’ve lost your job, you may have experienced a qualifying life event that triggers a Special Enrollment Period. That means you would be able to enroll in a new individual or family health plan. This can be a relief, especially if you don’t have another job to start that offer employees a group health plan.
You do have a few options when you lose an employer’s coverage:
- Use this event as a qualifying event to trigger a Special Enrollment Period and choosing to enroll in an individual or family plan on the exchange; or
- You can elect COBRA continuation coverage on your employer’s group health plan;
Before you choose one or the other though, you should know a little more about each option. Let’s start with using the event as a trigger to a Special Enrollment Period. Some examples of “job loss” 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;
If you’ve experienced any of these and as a result, lost your employer’s group health coverage, you are in a Special Enrollment Period. That means you have 60 days from your termination date to enroll in a qualified health plan.
COBRA is different.
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.
Remember that you will likely need supporting documentation to prove that you had a qualifying life event. In this case, it could be a termination letter from your employer, or a letter from your employer stating that you are no longer on their group health plan.
If you know you’re in a Special Enrollment Period, you can enroll now! You can click here for an online quote and enroll online, or you can speak with one of our licensed advisors no by calling them 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.