1. Make sure you take advantage of your insurance before it runs its course
Your first step should be to contact human resources and inquire about when your insurance will be terminated. Experts agree that this is vital information to be able to schedule your medical appointments and create a plan to get new coverage before the deadlines pass.
2. Get in touch with your doctor to make sure you are on the right track
In the chaos and disappointment caused by job loss, you might be more focused on finding work. However, you should make sure that your medical insurance policy is as comprehensive as possible. Make sure you schedule your checkups, imaging tests, bloodwork and other services if you have coverage until the end of the month. You should make an appointment with your therapist, or any other mental health professional. This is especially important as it can be stressful. If your doctor is unavailable before your insurance terminates, tell them about your situation and request to be added to a cancellation list.
If you require new contacts or glasses, ask for them. Ask about three-month supplies of prescription medication and request advance refills. You should do the same thing for all family members covered by your policy.
3. Learn about FSA and HSA
Be aware that you cannot put money into an FSA Flexible Spending Account. There is a “use it, or lose it” policy. You can’t use the money for expenses you incurred while you are employed, according to Sarah Michalczuk (founder and chief executive of Predictabill), which offers a way to help consumers compare insurance options. Get reimbursed by your FSA if you have receipts from drugstore purchases, such as cold medicines, pain relievers, and tampons, or glasses, contact lenses, health products, and skin-care items.
There are no time restrictions for spending money from your Health Savings Account. Michalczuk explained that there are certain rules about when money can be deposited into the HSA. According to Michalczuk, you can only contribute to an HSA while you are covered by a qualifying High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP).
The employer should be able provide a list identifying qualifying expenses to your FSA or HSA funds.
4. Choose wisely when you are looking for a new insurance policy.
Experts advise that when you are shopping for insurance, it is important to determine whether choosing one insurance plan will mean you have to change your medical provider. To find out if your doctors accept the new plan you are interested in, it is a smart idea to contact them.
5. Keep your employer-based insurance even if you’ve reached your deductibles
It can be costly to keep your employer’s insurance. However, it might make sense if the deductible is already paid or you have reached your maximum out-of-pocket, especially if you are planning on having any type of surgery. Experts said that changing to a new plan would reset the deductible.
People who lose jobs can keep the employer-based benefits they have under the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act or COBRA. This applies to all companies up to a certain size.
Many employers, especially large ones, will subsidize approximately 80 percent of your premium. That means you will be paying between 20 and 102 percent, after you add in the 2 percent administrative fees, according to Gerald Kominski, senior fellow at UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. He stated that this is a huge financial hit.
You have 60-days from the date you receive the notice to opt into COBRA. The notice must remain available for 18 months. However, in some cases it may be extended to 36 months.
6. Look into Affordable Care Act plans
Employment loss qualifies you to enroll in insurance plans covered by the Affordable CareAct (ACA). These insurance marketplaces can be used to find plans that may be subsidized or offered by the government, depending on your household’s income.
There are four levels to coverage: platinum, silver, gold, and gold. Low-tiered plans usually have lower premiums, but higher out of pocket costs. Higher-tiered policies usually have higher premiums and lower out-of pocket costs.
Deb Gordon, codirector of Alliance of Professional Health Advocates, stated that while silver plans may not be the most expensive type of insurance, they are often considered to be the best value due to cost-sharing subsidies. Experts explain that employer-based high-quality health insurance plans are equivalent to platinum and gold marketplace plans.
Gordon advised that people consider out-of–pocket limits when selecting a plan. She added that it was another way to determine your financial exposure.
You could be eligible to receive Medicare or Medicaid
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Medicare and Medicaid, both government-sponsored programs, are great options for people who meet their requirements.
Medicare is the best option for those over 65 who are near retirement age.
Medicaid may be available to you if your household income falls below certain thresholds. This is the most common form of Medicaid. It’s possible that Medicaid will not be accepted by all doctors depending on where you live. Michalczuk, Michalczuk, wrote in an email that “there will still be major hospitals in the network if you are concerned about coverage in case of emergency.”
8. A spouse’s retirement plan might be an option if you’re married.
Kominski explained that you can’t get marketplace subsidies if you’re not eligible for your spouse’s employer-based medical insurance plan.
- He said, “That’s always, at some point, the lowest-cost option, and, in fact may be the preferable option.”
- Michalczuk said that there may be a charge by some employers to add a spouse.
- Find out if your spouse’s insurance allows you to opt in, and how long it takes.
9. You can also choose an individual policy, but this is quite expensive.
Private health insurance plans purchased outside of the market can prove costly.
Experts suggested that those with high incomes who were unhappy with their employer’s benefits and don’t want to continue under COBRA or those who have been unemployed for more than 18 months may be interested in private insurance.
A patient advocate or broker can be helpful in these cases to help you determine which options are available to your needs and to find the right fit.
10. How to reduce medical costs
You can contact your doctors to make an appointment before you apply for new insurance. Experts explain that some providers offer financial assistance, payment plans, or a sliding scale to clients with established clientele.
GoodRx and other drug discount sites such as GoodRx are great places to locate prescription medication at a lower price. Online pharmacies may also offer them at a lower cost. Caitlin Donovan is the senior director of Patient Advocate Foundation.
For low-income persons without adequate insurance, drug manufacturers, government programs or nonprofit organizations might offer prescription drugs at a reduced cost.
Similar programs provide co-pay assistance that covers part or all of the cost of certain medications.
11. You can also use other resources to save money for your medical care
You can apply for unemployment insurance immediately after you lose your job. If you’re eligible, you’ll receive financial assistance which you can use towards groceries or child care. It will also help you save money for your medical bills.
Donovan suggests that you check with your church and community organizations to see if they have assistance programs, including those for pets.
Being uninsured is a full-time job. You’ll need to fill out paperwork and meet deadlines. And you might also be looking for a job. “So it can be stressful,” she explained. However, the most important thing to do is “try to forget that this is hopefully only a temporary problem.”