If your employer drops your health coverage or you lose your job, you have options for finding new insurance. These options will expand greatly in 2014. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.
Can I use COBRA if my employer stops offering health insurance?
No. COBRA is a law that lets you keep your company's health insurance if you lose your job. If you still have your job but your company drops insurance coverage, COBRA does not apply. You would need to find a new policy either through the Marketplaces offered under the Affordable Care Act or on the private insurance market.
COBRA also won't help if you lost your job because your company went bankrupt.
If I lose my job can COBRA help me keep insurance?
Yes. The law known as COBRA lets you keep the health plan you had through your job if you're laid off. In most cases you can keep it for 18 months.
Insurance through COBRA can be expensive. That's because while you were working, your employer was paying part of your premium . Now that you're out of work, you have to pay the whole premium yourself. You will also have to pay an administrative fee that adds to the cost.
If I lose insurance at my job, can I get on my spouse's health plan?
If your spouse has insurance through an employer, you might be able to get on his or her policy.
Usually employees can only add a spouse or child to a health plan during a few weeks in the year known as open enrollment. But exceptions are made when a family situation changes, such as when a spouse loses a job. Ask your spouse to check with a human resources representative at his or her workplace.
If I lose my job or my workplace drops my insurance, can I get health coverage through my state's Marketplace?
Most likely yes. Starting in 2013, each state will have its own insurance Marketplaces , also called Exchanges.
The Marketplace lets you shop for insurance online. You'll be able to compare prices as well as benefits of different plans.
If you need help, you can call a toll-free number to get your questions answered.
What can I do if my company drops my insurance before the new Marketplace opens?
If your company drops your insurance before enrollment in the Marketplace begins in October 2013, and you don't have a spouse with insurance or qualify for a government plan, like Medicaid or Medicare, you may need to find private insurance.
Check the federal government web site HealthCare.gov. On that site, use a tool called the insurance and coverage finder. It will give you a list of private insurance options for your state.