Medical Care: Temporary Health Insurance Options

Temporary health insurance is an option for many who are in between jobs. Temporary health insurance is available in three formats: COBRA, short-term health insurance and Medicaid.

Many times a major change in life is a welcomed experience. Other times it can be a cause for great anxiety. Take a major career change for instance. Whether one is terminated, laid off or leaves on their own free will, there are concerns that accompany a lack of employment. The primary concern for most is a financial one. Naturally one may wonder how they will maintain their lifestyle with a loss of income. But for some people, the primary concern may be a medical one. Often times, people work a job because of the medical benefits. Many people have a chronic illness, or they support someone who has a chronic illness. For these people health insurance is a necessity, not a luxury. If they are out of work what will they do?

Temporary health insurance is an option for many who are in between jobs, recent college graduates or international travelers. Temporary health insurance is available in three formats: COBRA, short-term health insurance and Medicaid. COBRA is an acronym for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (1985). This act ensures that employers would offer their employees the option of continuing their medical coverage in the event of a termination, layoff, or any other qualifying events.

A qualifying event may be the death of a covered employee (the spouse becomes eligible for COBRA); the termination of, or a reduction of hours (a minimal number of hours is required for medical coverage eligibility) at an employee's employment; a divorce or legal separation of an employee (the employee's spouse becomes eligible); an employee becoming entitled to Medicare benefits and/or a dependent child of the covered employee becomes independent (according to requirements of the plan- sometimes a dependent becomes 19 years of age but does not continue their education) and coverage is loss.

COBRA coverage is limited to thirty-six months, depending on the situation. COBRA will cover up to eighteen months for covered employees and their dependents, when coverage would be loss because of a termination or reduction of hours. COBRA will cover up to twenty-nine months for employees who are disabled at any time during the first 60 days of COBRA coverage. It also applies to the disabled employee's qualified beneficiaries. COBRA covers up to thirty-six months for spouses and dependents electing coverage due to an employee's death or a divorce or legal separation.

It is important to note that COBRA coverage does not continue at the same rate as when the employee was an eligible employee. The rates will increase significantly from the group rate that the employer provided.

If one cannot financially afford to pay for COBRA, or their lack of insurance is not work related the government offers Medicaid. Medicaid is a federally funded program that provides medical, hospital, dental and vision coverage for financially eligible applicants. Eligibility is determined through family size and monthly income restrictions. If one is working, their employer must not offer insurance, in order to qualify for Medicaid.

Medicaid may also be offered on an emergency basis for thirty days. If one has a chronic illness or medical emergency, one can apply and receive emergency Medicaid without the usual application and waiting period. There is no application fee, monthly premium or co-payments with Medicaid. Medicaid can be applied for through one's county Human Services office.

Many independent health insurance carriers offer short-term health insurance for people who are freelancers, recent college graduates and/or international travelers. For single coverage the rates start around $350 per month and may not include hospitalization, dental or vision. These plans can be tailored specifically to meet the benefactor's needs. If one is traveling in Europe for four weeks, a thirty- day plan can be arranged. If one is a freelancer or self -employed, month-to-month coverage may be available for up to twelve months. Many of the major health insurance carriers offer short term insurance. Call or visit the company website for availability in your state.

There are many options for temporary health insurance, from HMO's to Medicaid. Depending on your social and financial situation there is a plan available for you. There is no need to worry about health insurance, when using the Internet; coverage can literally be a click away.

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