You could find yourself without health-care coverage for any number of reasons, including retirement, being fired, relocation, divorce or your employer's decision to terminate such benefits.
So what do you do? Here are the steps that you can take to ensure that you maintain coverage.
Assess the Situation
If you are married, the first thing to check should be whether you can get coverage through your spouse.
This may well be the most cost-effective option for maintaining health coverage. If group health coverage is available, you qualify for special enrollment. This allows you and your dependents an opportunity to enroll in a plan for which they are eligible, regardless of normal enrollment periods. Be aware, though, that to qualify, enrollment must be requested within 30 days of losing eligibility for other coverage. After you request special enrollment, your coverage will begin on the first day of the next month.
The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1986 gives employees who do not qualify for Medicare the right to continue their health coverage. You qualify following a reduction in hours and voluntary or involuntary termination of employment for reasons other than gross misconduct. For a spouse, additional reasons include the covered employee becoming entitled to Medicare, divorce, legal separation and their death.
Normally, you will be covered for a maximum of 18 months, but coverage can be discontinued if you become entitled to Medicare, do not pay the premiums, your former employer drops health coverage or you join another health plan. A covered employee's spouse who would lose coverage due to a divorce may elect to receive continuation coverage under the plan for a maximum of 36 months.