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What do I do if my health insurance is employer-based and I lose my job?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine

Take a deeeeeep breath and don’t fret. You can keep your health insurance for up to 18 months (sometimes longer) even if it is employer-based and you lose your job (as long as there wasn’t any serious misconduct that led to your termination). Thank COBRA for that. This is one snake that doesn’t bite -- except in your pocketbook. It’s a federal law that continues your healthcare coverage if it would have been terminated otherwise. Spouses and dependent children are also covered by this generous COBRA snake. There are some nitty gritty details with COBRA (and it can be quite pricey), so make sure you look into all your options (like getting coverage through your spouse?) and contact your previous employer’s benefits office to find out more about COBRA.

If you are losing your employer-based health insurance coverage you have several options. The first option to consider is purchasing a COBRA policy. COBRA refers to the Consolidation Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which requires an employer to offer the same coverage you have had for a specified time if you pay the premium. The premium may be higher than you have paid because the employer generally is no longer required to pay a portion. If the premium is financially burdensome, you may consider purchasing an independent policy from a private company. Depending on the coverage you desire, you may be able to pay a smaller premium for a smaller policy. If you are confident that you will begin another job soon, a COBRA policy may provide the bridge you need until your new employer based coverage begins.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.