Employment and Health Insurance

If youíve enjoyed good benefits at the job you are leaving, chances are your employer paid for your medical insurance ... but this is about to change. Generally, your medical coverage - as you know it - ends when you walk out the door. Take a few minutes to consider the steps necessary to maintain adequate health coverage.

Things you should know about Medical Insurance:

Evaluate your employer sponsored plans

Your coverage in most employer sponsored health plans terminates on the day your employment ends. Check with your employer to make sure exactly when your coverage ends. You should avoid going a single day without health insurance.

COBRA may provide coverage

COBRA is the federal law that entitles you to continued coverage under a former employerís group health plan even after you leave the job. If you were insured under an employer sponsored group health plan prior to leaving your job, you and your family should still be eligible to continued coverage in the plan. However, the employer who sponsored the plan no longer has to subsidize the premium for this coverage. It must be paid in full by you. What your COBRA rights give you is continuity of insurance coverage, plus the benefit of a group rate and broader health coverage than you could buy in an individual policy. You should check with your employer for more specific information, because not all companies are required to provide COBRA benefits.

It is very risky to go without any medical coverage

Donít get discouraged if you find you must obtain your own health coverage because you are starting your own company, going back to school, or facing temporary unemployment. Take the time to research your options. Find out if youíre eligible to participate in group coverage sponsored by any trade or professional associations to which you belong, for example.

Donít forgo medical insurance

At the very least, buy a policy that would cover a catastrophic medical emergency. It wonít provide comprehensive health coverage; but it will be much less expensive than a policy that covers routine health care costs, and can protect you from financial ruin in the event of a medical emergency.

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COBRA -- COBRA, which is the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, guarantees that all individuals who are covered by medical insurance have the right to continue coverage for a monthly fee if employment or marital status changes. A nonemployee spouse in a terminated marriage is entitled to COBRA coverage at his or her own cost for up to thirty-six months.

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