People who lose health insurance when they lose their job may have a number of choices. If you are under age 65 and have very low or no income, you may be eligible for Medicaid. Others may want to purchase insurance for themselves and their family through the Marketplace. You may even be eligible for help paying the premium for the Marketplace insurance. More information about Medicaid eligibility and Marketplace plans can be found at insurance.pa.gov/Coverage/Pages/State-Based-Exchange.aspx.
If you worked for a company with 20 or more full-time workers, you may be able to buy COBRA continuation health coverage. You can buy the same health insurance you had before you lost your job for up to 18 months. COBRA is expensive, however. People must pay their part of the premium, their employer’s part of the premium, and a 2% administrative fee.
Some people who continued to work after they turned 65 may also be eligible for COBRA. If you have not already enrolled in Medicare when you lose your job, you may be better off enrolling in Medicare than buying COBRA. A delay in Medicare enrollment can result in having to pay a higher Medicare Part B premium. If you take COBRA and then enroll in Medicare, COBRA coverage can be terminated. People who were on Medicare Part A or Part B before they lost their job can take COBRA if they want. However, they need to remember to enroll in Medicare Part B within 8 months of losing their health insurance to avoid the higher Medicare Part B premium for late enrollment.
Each person will have to decide the best health insurance choice for themselves and their family. Consider premiums, the services paid for by the different insurance, and the cost sharing for each service-including prescriptions.