One day you’re working and enjoying benefits like health insurance and a regular paycheck, and the next day you’re unemployed. This story has become too familiar lately: as unemployment rates drop, there are still millions of people struggling to make ends meet while they’re out of work. Basic necessities like doctor’s visits and paying bills can be pushed aside as more urgent needs are attended to. If you find yourself in this position, how will you provide the health and safety resources your family needs?
In today’s job market, landing a new job and qualifying for health insurance aren’t guaranteed, and most newly unemployed parents can find themselves in a panic. Unable to meet their children’s needs, they feel stressed, overwhelmed and hopeless. Unemployed parents must be resourceful and act quickly, methodically and calmly in order to secure the health care coverage their family so desperately needs.
Start your search by contacting your primary care physician. Discuss your situation and ask for advice. The office manager or insurance liaison can refer you to low-cost insurance options or offer advice about what you can do next. Fortunately, unemployment insurance exists for those in need.
If possible, contact your previous employer regarding Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). COBRA allows you to continue receiving group health benefits under your former employer’s plan by paying the entire monthly rate. You can also contact your state’s Unemployment Insurance department; each state determines the eligibility, benefits and length of coverage for applicants. You need to provide the address of your former employer and the dates of your employment.
To remain eligible, you may be required to enroll in a job search program and check in regularly either online or through an automated telephone process. While temporary, these options can provide emergency coverage and peace of mind until you can find alternative insurance.
To find insurance through a private group, you can also contact an insurance broker. Your auto insurance agent or the local Chamber of Commerce can direct you to local health insurance brokers. An insurance broker is a trained agent who can search for available policies for your family. You can also compare insurance coverage online. Compare policy deductibles, benefits and cost from the convenience of your home.
Contact your unemployment office for resource information and an encouraging shoulder. Employment specialists understand your feelings, fears and frustrations. They can help you create a plan of action and solve your insurance dilemma in addition to helping you land a great job with benefits.
In reality, most unemployed parents don’t have resources to afford expensive health insurance for themselves and their families. You may resist applying for public assistance, but receiving free aid until you can find a job is a positive alternative to jeopardizing your health and the health of your children. Fill out an online application and determine your family’s eligibility for public assistance. Even if you don’t qualify for free insurance, your children may qualify for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This program provides free or low-cost insurance based on your family’s income.
During your insurance search, you will need paperwork that proves your family size and previous insurance coverage. Assemble the Social Security cards and birth certificates of your family members. Include paystubs or other proof of your most recent employment and previous insurance coverage. If you apply for benefits available for low-income families, you must supply proof of income and household expenses.
Losing your job is stressful, but don’t panic. Instead, take a breath and focus on what you need to do in order to protect your family’s health and safety. Write a list of possible insurance sources, and assemble the paperwork you need in order to apply for insurance. Make your family’s health your full-time job until you succeed in securing adequate coverage. Then you can apply yourself to finding a full-time job, hopefully with benefits that include reliable health insurance for you and your entire family.