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I was laid off from my job and I lost my benefits. What are my options?

Finding out that you no longer have health insurance as a result of being laid off can be a confusing and frustrating experience. If you have relied on health insurance coverage through your employer in the past, you will lost it at some point after being fired, getting laid off, or voluntarily leaving your position. When this coverage ends tends to depend on your job, as some employers will keep your coverage through the end of the month or a different period if stipulated in your employment contract. The Affordable Care Act does not change your health insurance if you are laid off from your job, so you can expect to lose that coverage if this happens to you. If that’s the case, you have several options about how to proceed.

First of all, you may be able to continue coverage through COBRA, but some individuals find this very expensive. Your employer should provide you with the details about what it would cost to continue this coverage. Even though the price can be high, it may be worth it for you to retain this coverage for a period of time until you figure out your next move. Unless you were fired for gross misconduct, you are eligible to continue your plan through your employer for up to 18 months.

Your other options is to attempt to obtain coverage through the insurance marketplace. Open enrollment for the 2015 year begins on November 15, 2014 and will run through January 15, 2015. If you happen to lose your job outside of these specific dates, you may qualify for a special enrollment period. If this is the case, you have 60 days within which to apply for health insurance coverage from the date you lose your job.

When you apply for coverage through the health insurance marketplace, you will need to supply income details to determine if you are eligible for assistance and tax-sharing programs. Since the exchanges for health exchange are online, you should be able to learn everything you need to about the cost of care. The upside of being laid off in a non-enrollment period is that you may be able to get more personalized service in getting your plan activated if you require help.

Getting laid off is certainly difficult, but you do have options for continuing your coverage or purchasing your own coverage.