Separating from your employer and its benefits has been a common theme this year. As COVID-19 bulldozes through, layoffs and furloughs continue to soar. And losing your health insurance benefit during these uncertain times can be overwhelming.
If you are separated from your job and depend on its health insurance benefits, you can sign up for COBRA to stay on your employee benefits, or buy a personal health insurance plan elsewhere. Understanding the differences between these is key to helping you make the smartest decision for your situation.
Learn the differences between COBRA and Private Health Insurance (PHI).
What is COBRA?
COBRA is a federal program (Department of Labor) that allows you to keep your group health insurance after you have been separated from your company. Think of COBRA as Continuation of Benefits.
- COBRA begins the day after your employee health insurance benefits end. (This may not be your severance date.)
- You have 60 days after your employee benefits end to sign up for COBRA.
- COBRA lasts 18 months. It is not extendable. You must keep the same plan you are in at separation. But you can drop family members, dental, vision add-ons.
- You must pay the full monthly premium plus a 2% administration fee.
What is Private Health Insurance (PHI)?
Private Health Insurance (PHI) is any health care insurance offered by an insurance company to cover individuals and families who are not in a large company, military, state or national group.
- What are the differences between COBRA and PHI?
What PHI is most like the insurance you had with your employer?
PHI that complies with the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare, the Exchange, the Marketplace) is most like the insurance you’ve had.
However, there are some differences:
- The ACA offers assistance paying premiums and reduces cost-sharing like co-pays and deductibles.
- The three insurance companies offering it in our area are: Cigna, Ambetter and Blue Cross.
- Plans are network sensitive. There is no one PPO card that covers all doctors and hospitals.
- Anyone can sign up for ACA health care insurance during Open Enrollment (November 1 – December 15). To sign up at any other time, you must document a life event that qualifies you for Special Enrollment.
Don’t buy ACA health care insurance online. Healthcare.gov doesn’t understand that none of the insurers in our area offer one card for all doctors and hospitals. Their directions for assistance are incomplete and can leave you with the wrong card or missed assistance, which is hard to correct. Jerry S. Pearlstein Insurance offers free COBRA & Alternatives seminars by Zoom every Wednesday at 1pm. Request registration at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Short Term Healthcare: A less expensive option for healthy people
How does short-term health insurance work?
Short-term health insurance can be a beneficial option for anyone in between jobs because it starts immediately and is far less expensive than other Premiums. It is important to understand its specific requirements and plan details before applying:
- You must be in good health at the start of coverage.
- Short-term health plans do not cover preexisting conditions.
- It is considered “Catastrophic”, or “Emergency” insurance.
- It lasts 6 months.
- It can start any time and coverage goes into effect within 24 hours.
To learn more about how short-term healthcare coverage works, discuss the pros and cons with experts.
Get in touch with an expert.
Trying to navigate the multiple options of health insurance can be overwhelming, which is why it is beneficial to go through it with an expert. At Jerry S. Pearlstein Insurance, our services are completely free. We are here to help you understand the differences of your options and handle the enrollment for you.
Health insurance can be confusing, and trying to crack the code for the best coverage for the best rate is time consuming. Our mission: to be the no-fee, personal-benefits help desk for individuals, families and small businesses. Our advice has earned national recognition from Healthcare.gov three years in a row. We are fully licensed, certified and educated in the latest private health insurance products and rulings.
Stay calm and know you have options.
When you suddenly become separated from your employer and its benefits, especially in these uncertain times, it can feel stressful and burdensome trying to navigate what to do about health insurance. The options can be overwhelming, but at Jerry S. Pearlstein Insurance, we are here to help you determine the best choice for you and your family.
To learn more about Jerry S. Pearlstein and our services, visit our website here.