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If Open Enrollment has ended, it allows you to purchase a Marketplace plan with full subsidies (if you qualify) and have your pre-exsisting conditions covered. No waiting period or extra copay or deductible for these conditions. You can choose among all of the available major carriers that offer coverage in your area. This "qualifying event" allows you to obtain affordable medical coverage at any time of the year.
You will not have to answer medical questions, and you do not have to keep the same company that you had while working at your previous employer. An experienced broker and his/her website will be very helpful. Insist on a broker with at least 25 years of experience in the business.
NOTE: COBRA may be available, but typically will be more expensive than an Exchange plan (especially if you qualify for a federal subsidy). Short-term (temporary) plans are also offered by many top-rated companies. However, they are non-compliant, do not cover pre-existing conditions, and are not eligible for subsidies.
Important: This question was answered by Edward Harris, one of the nation's leading and most experienced (35 years) health insurance brokers. His website, Majormedicalhealth.com, is the premier trusted healthcare website in the US, and offers the lowest individual and family rates from top-rated companies.
UPDATE: The Supreme Court has still not rendered its decision regarding subsidies.
UPDATE: July 2015. The decision has been made! Subsidies will continue to be paid on both state and federal Exchanges.
If your company was providing health insurance they should have provided you with information about COBRA; a way for you to continue the coverage but now you would be responsible for paying 100-101% of the premium. If the premium is too much for you to pay, then you should look for a more affordable plan on your own.
Under the Affordable Care Act there is a specific time period called Open Enrollment, which in general occurs between November and February. This is the time when individuals can enroll in a new health plan, effective January 1. However if you have a qualifying event you can enroll in a health plan no matter what time of year. Loss of employment is a qualifying event. But you only have 63 days to take action.
Get in touch with your state's Health Connector or an insurance agent and they should be able to assist you. If you're in Massachusetts please feel free to contact me, I'd be happy to help.
Best of luck with everything.
If you have a spouse who is employed and has health insurance coverage available through their employer this is a qualifying event for you to be added as a dependent on your spouse's plan or for you and your spouse to both enroll in the spouse's employer's health plan if you had both been enrolled under your former employer's health plan. If your spouse has access to coverage through their employer this will almost certainly make you ineligible for subsidies through the government health insurance marketplaces.
Some people, especially those with family coverage, may find paying the entire premium for the former employer's health plan to be cost prohibitive or may not want to continue be covered under it for other reasons. Losing coverage from an employer's group health plan is a "Qualifying Event" that grants you a "Special Election Period" under the Affordable Care Act. You have a 60-day window after losing coverage to purchase individual health insurance either directly from an insurance carrier or through the state or Federal Health Insurance Marketplace in your state. The only good reason to purchase your coverage through a government health insurance marketplace is if your income level for 2015 would qualify you for a premium subsidy and possibly for cost sharing reductions. Currently a person's qualification for these subsidies is based upon the applicant's projected FAMILY income for all of 2015. So, your situation is not an uncomplicated one. SEEK OUT AN EXPERIENCED HEALTH INSURANCE BROKER WHO REPRESENTS MULTIPLE INSURANCE CARRIERS AND WHO IS LICENSED TO SELL COVERAGE IN THE GOVERNMENT MARKETPLACE FOR GUIDANCE ON THESE MATTERS.
If you are in good health and pre-existing condition coverage is not a concern for you, then in the event that the options I've listed above don't fit your financial needs, you can consider Short Term Major Medical insurance coverage as bridge coverage if you anticipate getting another job in the weeks or months ahead. These policies are usually less expensive (sometimes significantly so) than the options discussed above and can provide protection from financial ruin in the event an illness or injury occurs while the Short Term Medical policy is in effect. PLEASE NOTE: Short Term Medical policies do not meet the criteria under the Affordable Care Act for avoiding the individual mandate tax penalty so there could be tax ramifications if you are covered under such a policy for more than 90-days. This does not mean that a Short Term Medical policy is an option you should not consider but it is an option that you should choose only with a full understanding of the positives and negatives associated with this choice. Which is another reason you should seek the guidance of an experienced Health Insurance Broker.
Your second option, and a possibly cheaper one, would be to enroll in a Government exchange (www.healthcare.gov) or an independent health insurer. The loss of your coverage from your job loss is considered a "qualifying event", which allows you to apply for a policy outside of the mandated enrollment period. Qualifying events are major life changes that require a change in coverage, like a birth, marraige, divorce, or job loss. You can either shop for a policy on the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) site at www.heathcare.gov, or a similar exchange. I recommend the ACA site first, as you may qualify for a subsidy that may help with the cost for you. But act quickly, as it may be that our Government insured Supreme Court may decide that you don't need help paying for insurance, and remove the subsidy. They are debating that even as we speak. Good luck with your job hunt, and trust that God has you covered! Thanks for asking!
There are ways to get individual policies to provide short term coverage until you find a new job. In some states you may qualify for state sponsored health insurance for those who are unable to get insurance otherwise.
Look around at your options. If you are in CA feel free to contact me.