The scariest part of losing your job can be losing your health insurance.
Group health insurance through an employer is easily the most desirable form of coverage. It’s cheaper, usually more comprehensive and far more generous than individual policies.
But when you’re laid off, what do you do? The options, at first glance, appear to be pricey for most families. However, bypassing insurance can be even more costly. What's more, a few techniques can shave your premiums down so you remain covered and can still save some money while you look for your next job.
Consider these options:
One solution may be to get married. In a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation last April, 7% of respondents said they tied the knot mainly so they or their spouse could access the other’s employer-sponsored health insurance.
Even if you’re commitment-phobic you may have options here. Consider registering with your state as a cohabitant to get on your domestic partner’s insurance plan. It is up to each employer to determine if you will be covered. However, it is not unusual for some larger companies to offer health benefits to domestic partners or those with cohabitation agreements, says Kathryn Wilbur, senior counsel of health policy at the American Benefits Council. Another caveat to note, though: Wilbur says some companies only offer benefits to non-married couples who can’t legally marry, such as same-sex couples in most states. That means if you are able to marry, but choose not to, you may not be eligible under the employer’s plan.
If cohabitation doesn’t work for you, the individual health insurance market is another option. Be aware this option can be expensive, and many insurers may drop coverage based on preexisting conditions, says Cheryl Fish-Parcham, deputy director of health policy at Families USA, a nonprofit advocacy group. “You might be surprised to find out that the Internet rate is not what you would be charged,” she says.