Finding an insurance substitute on your own requires the most legwork. Try an online purveyor like ehealthinsurance.com, or seek out groups such as the Freelancer's Union (at freelancersunion.org) which present their own insurance programs. (It's free to join the Freelancers, but you must of course meet the criteria for inclusion in the group.) Visit the web portal for the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (naic.org) too; if circumstances make you "undesirable" to regular insurance companies, one of the state-subsidized pools might grant you entry. Additionally, if you've been laid off, your employer is required by law to offer health insurance under COBRA (resulting from the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act). Basically, they're allowing you to remain a part of the employee group for insurance purposes, but the big downside is the price: You are now required to pay the bulk of -- if not all of -- the cost of coverage. (For a limited time only, you can take advantage of a Congressionally-established COBRA subsidy, meaning you won't have to bear the cost by yourself.)
An obvious solution is to latch onto a spouse's plan, which is likely to accommodate a newly-jobless family member. (And it's the easiest one to execute, since someone else will be filling out the paperwork.) Lastly, before cursing your employer as you walk out the door, try to angle for more health coverage. CNNMoney.com says this will work better if you've been around awhile or are part of the management team (or if you're good at making others feel guilty and have sick family members).
There are a lot of elements to consider here (cost, benefits, deductible, etc.) and usually, there isn't much time to decide what's best. But once resolved, and once you're operating from under the fluffy security blanket of health insurance, you'll be able to better concentrate on finding your next dream employer.
--Posted by Todd Obolsky, Vault News & Commentary
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