If Your Workplace Drops Your Health Insurance: FAQ

If your employer drops your health coverage or you lose your job, you have options for finding new insurance. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.

Can I sign up for 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 your company stops offering health insurance, there is no company-sponsored  health plan available for you to continue. In this case, COBRA does not apply. You would need to find a new policy, which you can do through the Marketplaces offered under the Affordable Care Act.

 

If I lose my job can COBRA help me keep insurance?

Yes. You keep the health plan you had through your job if you're laid off through COBRA. In most cases you can keep it for up to 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 health insurance. 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. You can shop for insurance online through the Marketplace.

If you need assistance, you can call a toll-free number to get your questions answered. You can also ask for face-to-face help in your area. To find a location near you, go to localhelp.healthcare.gov.

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What can I do if my company drops my insurance before the next enrollment period?

The loss of job-based health insurance is considered a "qualifying life event." That allows you to buy insurance outside of the open enrollment period. Check healthcare.gov for dates. 

To search for new insurance plans and learn if you qualify for a subsidy to lower your costs, go to Healthcare.gov.

Are there other government plans I may qualify for?

Yes. Government programs include:

Medicaid. You can get insurance through Medicaid if you have a low income or you're disabled. The rules vary by state.

To find out if you qualify and how to apply for Medicaid in your state, visit the insurance and coverage finder on the federal government's web site, HealthCare.gov. You can also visit the Medicaid web site at Medicaid.gov.

CHIP. CHIP stands for Children's Health Insurance Program. Your kids can get insurance through CHIP if your income qualifies. It's meant for families that can't afford private health insurance but make too much money to get Medicaid. Whether you're eligible and how much you pay depends on the state you live in.

To find out about children's coverage programs in your state, visit the insurance and coverage finder on HealthCare.gov. You can also get more information on the federal government web site called InsureKidsNow.gov.

Medicare . If you're age 65 or older or have disabilities, you may be eligible for coverage from Medicare, the government health program for seniors and people with disabilities. You can also get coverage from Medicare if you have a significant disability or have end-stage renal disease.

To find out if you qualify for Medicare, visit the Medicare eligibility calculator on Medicare.gov. You can also use the government's Medicare Plan Finder to get cost estimates and coverage information.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Lisa Zamosky on August 28, 2015

Sources

SOURCES:

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: "State-Level Trends in Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance: A State-by-State Analysis."

HealthCare.gov: "Large business," "Insurance options," "Young adult coverage," "Medicaid," "Children's health insurance program," "Medicare," "About the health insurance marketplace."

Health Insurance 101: "Continuation of coverage (COBRA)."

U.S. Department of Labor: "COBRA continuation health coverage."

Kaiser Family Foundation, "Explaining health care reform: Questions about health insurance exchanges."

U.S. Dept. of Labor: "COBRA Continuation Coverage."

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