With the new Healthcare.gov and state-run healthcare exchanges up and running, many people are worried that their employers will get rid of health coverage as a part of employment benefits. Rising healthcare costs in recent years led to employers cutting back on coverage and benefits well before the Affordable Care Act.
Most employers are not cutting coverage. Some are having to find new plans, since their old plans don't meet coverage standards for the ACA. Others are shifting more healthcare costs to the employee. Some are paying fixed amounts for certain procedures and medications in the hopes that the patient will shop around more and trying to find more competitive pricing. Other companies are rewarding employees for healthy decision-making, such as quitting smoking, or giving rebates to workers with healthy lifestyles.
If your employer does drop your healthcare coverage because the plan doesn't meet ACA standards, there are a few options.
- Check your state healthcare exchange or Healthcare.gov. These plans are direct-pay and you can keep them as long as you can pay for them, no matter where you work.
- Check your spouse's plan. Normally, you can only drop or add people to a health plan once a year during open enrollment. However, if your family is going through a life event such as marriage, divorce, birth or death, you are generally allowed to make mid-year changes to your health plan. If your employer drops health coverage, check with your spouse's employer to see if you can enroll through that employer.
- See if you qualify for Medicare or Medicaid. Depending on your age and income, you may be eligible for Medicare or Medicaid. In some states that have chosen not to open healthcare exchanges, and even some that have, the qualifications for assistance have been widened.
Unfortunately, COBRA is not an option when your employer drops healthcare coverage. COBRA is a law requiring your employer to allow you to keep your healthcare plan for six months after a job loss. It does not apply if you are still employed but have lost healthcare coverage through your employer.
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