What happens when you are younger than 65 years of age (when you are eligible for Medicare) and lose your group health insurance? For a variety of reasons, many older people under the official retirement age lose their group health insurance and the reality of private individual health insurance is hundreds of dollars above what your budget allows. Millions of adults are in this predicament. Some choose to take their chances with no insurance and others sacrifice so many things such as adequate food for their diet in order to afford medical coverage.
There are some health insurance options available to you depending on your situation. You just have to dig deep (because the government is not going to help) to find an avenue that would best suit your needs and lifestyle until you can quality for Medicare. Everyone needs health insurance because it takes just one mishap to completely destroy your financial future.
The majority of people under the age of 65 have insurance through their job or their spouse’s job. This group health insurance could be composed of a number of plans from PPOs to HMOs. The employer picks up part or all of the cost and you subsidize the rest if needed. Group insurance often costs less than individual health insurance and has more benefits. Therefore, it makes sense to try and hold onto this insurance.
First, let’s look at the reasons why you may end up losing your group health insurance:
1. Your spouse dies or you divorce, thus losing that avenue of insurance.
2. You quit your job, get laid off or are fired.
3. Your work hours might be cut back thus precluding you from being eligible for insurance.
4. You retire early without a plan for health insurance and a long wait until you reach age 65 and are eligible for Medicare.
Luckily, there are some steps you can take if you are faced with the possibility of losing your health insurance. The first thing you should do is determine if you are eligible for COBRA benefits. While it will cost more, at least you would not be denied automatically. Look into your HIPAA rights. This Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 protects your right to insurance if you change jobs. Finally, you can see if your group health insurance plan can be converted into an individual health insurance plan.
There are some other avenues to pursue if you know that you will likely lose your group health insurance. If you belong to some type of membership organization whether it is a community, fraternal, social or professional, there may be possibility of garnering individual health insurance through this method. Some insurance companies will treat all the members of the organization as a group and offer group health insurance rates. In addition, most states have risk pools where people who cannot normally get insurance can go and get coverage. It is rather pricey but not always as much as individual health plans.
Options exist for relatively affordable individual health insurance. You just have to be proactive and anticipate the possibility that you may lose your group health insurance. Except in cases of sudden spousal death or being fired, you would have some indication in advance.