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Health Insurance Options
Washington DC COBRA Insurance
When people living in Washington D.C. face losing their health insurance due to job loss or retirement (themselves or the covered employee who insures them), they have four different options to choose from when seeking out a new health insurance plan. Finding a new health insurance plan is important to make sure that any medical needs that arise are covered and do not put them in financial or medical danger.
In addition, when people are considering their options for health insurance in Washington D.C., they should make sure they consider both the financial implications of their decision and the health consequences of their choice. Health insurance plans and COBRA insurance can be expensive and finding the right option is important.
Option 1: Federal COBRA Health Insurance
The first option that most people consider after they lose, quit, or retire from their job is federal COBRA medical insurance. The federal plan was set up in 1986 to give people the option to keep their exact same health insurance plan for up to 18 months given they met certain requirements in the law. The first requirement was that they were on the health insurance plan and that is covered at least 20 employees, known as qualifying plan. The second was that they (or the covered employee) lost their job, quit their job, or retired from their job without the presence of any gross misconduct or wrongdoing, known as qualifying event. Qualifying event could also be death of the covered employee, divorce from the covered employee, or loss of dependent status. Finally, the third requirement known as qualifying beneficiary was who else could keep their coverage and essentially extended COBRA to spouses and dependents.
Once you determine if you qualify for federal COBRA, the next consideration is the cost and length of coverage. COBRA costs 102% of the premium and you are responsible for paying the entire cost. Your employer will no longer subsidize any of it. For most people this means a cost increase of up to 90% since most employers pay a substantial piece of health care costs. For the average individual COBRA costs over $400 monthly and the average family pays over $1000 monthly. In terms of coverage length, COBRA insurance is only a temporary solution that in most cases lasts 18 months.
Option 2: Washington D.C. COBRA Insurance
Washington D.C. COBRA insurance works identically to the federal COBRA plans, except it extends coverage to people who work at companies with between 2-19 employees. If you qualify for federal COBRA, you cannot use Washington D.C. COBRA. It is only meant to help people who cannot take advantage of the federal plan. The cost and term length of Washington D.C. Mini COBRA is the same - 102% of the premium and 18 months in most cases.
Option 3: Private Health Insurance
The third option and many time the most affordable option is to find a private individual or family plan that is less expensive than Washington D.C. COBRA insurance. The reason that private health insurance plans are more affordable than COBRA medical insurance for most people is because they are only paying for a plan for themselves. Under group plans, which is what COBRA is, you pay for everyone on the plan regardless of thier health. With your own plan, you only pay for your health needs. In fact, most people save around 60% when they choose a private plan over COBRA. To learn more about private plans and what's available you can get a free quote below that will show you many insurance plans from multiple companies.
Option 4: Government Health Insurance
The final option to consider when you are losing health insurance due to job loss is government health programs. If you are under a certain income limit you may be able to get free or reduced cost insurance for your entire family or your children. The best place to learn about this type of insurance is through local civic offices.
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District of Columbia Frequently Asked Questions
How do I enroll in Washington DC COBRA insurance?
To enroll in COBRA in the District of Columbia you will need to compete the COBRA form you received from your employer. On the form you will need to include each person who will be using the coverage. If you have not received a form, you should contact your employer and health insurance company immediately to get one.
Do governmental employees qualify for COBRA in Washington DC?
In most cases government workers are not eligible for COBRA but there is a government run program that they can sign up for. Talk to your Human Resources department about how the government run plan is structured to learn about your options.
Is my whole family allowed to enroll in COBRA insurance or just the employee?
Yes. Under the COBRA laws, all qualifying beneficiaries which usually includes spouses, children, and other dependents can sign up for COBRA. It is also acceptable to sign up some family members and not everyone. You can determine exactly who you would like to sign up for COBRA.
Who can I contact if I am having problems with COBRA coverage in Washington DC?
For any problems with District of Columbia Health Insurance Continuation you should contact the Department of Labor. They can help you determine what next steps you can take and if in fact you have been wrongfully treated in regards to COBRA.
Washington DC COBRA is really expensive, are there programs from the government I can use?
In the District of Columbia there are some options for lower cost and even free insurance. Many people use the many free clinics in the city. Additionally you can explore the options through the Department of Health Care Finance, which offer different options to children and families living at or near the federal poverty line.