COBRA has premium assistance for those who need help paying the monthly obligation. This assistance can drop your premium obligation to zero. If you declined COBRA coverage initially but received notice of premium assistance, you may have another chance to sign up.
If you have lost your job and cannot afford COBRA premiums, you can obtain alternate insurance options. You will also have to find an alternative if you come to the end of your continuation COBRA coverage.
The Marketplace, for example, is a popular place to compare health insurance plans and quotes. The tax subsidies reduce your monthly payment based on your income and number of family members.
The government also provides other programs to help residents who are between jobs or have a low income. Some of the most popular government programs include:
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
The Medicaid program provides health care coverage for low-income households. It covers children, the elderly, pregnant women, and those with disabilities or who qualify for Social Security Income (SSI). The specific requirements for enrollment in Medicaid depend on your state.
Likewise, your copayments and out-of-pocket costs will vary based on your state, such as its minimum and maximum charge percentages. Recipients may pay 20 percent of the bill while the state pays the rest.
CHIP provides low-income children with health insurance and affordable medical benefits. It is available for children even if their parents or guardians do not meet the requirements for Medicaid.
Many health care services are free for CHIP beneficiaries. But the state may have low monthly premiums or copayments for select services.
Medicare is a federal insurance plan for seniors 65 years of age or older and those afflicted with certain conditions. Those eligible for SSI qualify for Medicare plans and may be automatically enrolled in Original Medicare upon registering in SSI.
The state where you live may have these programs or others under different names. State websites typically have information about health insurance and medical assistance.
You can also look into temporary, short-term health insurance plans if you need an affordable option while waiting for other coverage to start. These plans cannot provide coverage for longer than 12 months. Providers can also deny coverage if you have pre-existing conditions.
Short-term plans often have much more affordable premiums than COBRA plans. Plans are typically less than $100 monthly.
However, short-term insurance has limited benefits. For instance, they do not cover mental health, maternity, and prescription drugs. If you do not plan to have many medical services, it can be a great option.