Some Medicare enrollment questions this year came from workers who have lost their jobs and are unsure about their health insurance options.
Here are two question that are on the minds of many Medicare-eligible Americans experiencing unemployment during a global pandemic.
I recently lost my job. Is COBRA my only health care option?
Definitely not. COBRA, short for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, is a temporary health care plan for individuals who have recently lost their jobs. Federal law requires employers with 20 or more employees to provide COBRA as a health insurance option, in order to prevent plan disruption and avoid leaving people uninsured while they look for their next opportunity.
It’s worth noting that COBRA is more expensive for the outgoing employees than employer plans, as members are required to pay 100% of the premium, a cost that normally would be shared with an employer, plus any administrative costs that come with the plan.
Having an expensive insurance plan is unequivocally better than being uninsured, particularly during a global pandemic, but it’s important to be aware that COBRA isn’t necessarily the best, or only, option.
One alternative to COBRA is getting insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace (Obamacare). This health insurance exchange provides many health plan options for individuals to consider. In addition, government assistance is available, depending on the individual’s income, and those who are eligible can take advantage of significantly reduced or eliminated insurance premiums.
According to David Weiler, director of business development at Allsup, even those who don’t meet the requirements for assistance have the option to buy an independent health plan from a private insurance company.