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Health Insurance Options
Insurance Options After COBRA has Ended
Although most people hope to have health insurance by the time their COBRA runs out, the unfortunate fact is that many people do not. Unemployment is still around 10% and that means that for many, when COBRA runs out they must seek out a new insurance plan. However there are many options to find a new plan even for people with preexisting conditions or serious medical needs.
1. Enroll in a Spouse's Insurance Plan:
One of the most cost effective and easiest options can be to enroll in a spouse's plan if your spouse is employed somewhere that provides health insurance benefits. This type of plan will likely provide comprehensive benefits and people normally cannot be denied due to preexisting conditions. The only thing to keep in mind if you are planning on enrolling in a spouse's plan is that many plans limit adding another person to the plan to open enrollment periods, which usually happen once a year. Make sure to plan around the open enrollment window so you do not need to find short-term coverage or go without coverage.
2. Enroll in a State Insurance Plans:
Every state offers some kind of medical plan for residents who fall within certain income limits. These plans have many different names and usually can be found by contacting the Health and Human Services office in your state. Many of these plans provide reduced or even free health care to individuals, families, and children. If you are looking specifically at plans for children, in most states the plans are called CHIPs, short for Children's Health Insurance Plans.
3. Alumni and Trade Group Insurance Plans:
Depending on your trade and/or alma mater, you may be able to sign up for an insurance plan sponsored by a trade group or alumni organization/university. Many trade groups offer group health insurance plans to members as long as the members pay the annual dues. Similarly, many universities have also started to offer group plans for alums. These plans vary in coverage and cost so it is important to examine them carefully and to price them against an private plan.
4. Part Time Employment with Health Coverage:
For people with preexisting conditions or who have been denied coverage, it may be worth it to consider a part time job with benefits even if it isn't with your ideal employer. Many schools and government entities offer health insurance to part time employees, as do some major companies like Starbucks, Target, and UPS.
5. Private Insurance Plans:
The most common path for people after COBRA insurance ends is to enroll in a private insurance plan. There are many health insurance options for private plans and the level of coverage they can get surprises many people. Many people even find they save money when they compare it to the price of COBRA. For people with preexisting conditions, they can consider PCIP insurance as well, which extends coverage to people with more ongoing and serious medical needs who have been denied coverage through another private plan.
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