Many jobseekers aren’t aware of the health insurance options they have, both while they are unemployed and when they begin a new job. Nowadays, it is particularly important to have health coverage, because federal regulations impose penalty fines on individuals who don’t have health insurance. But just the idea of choosing a health insurance plan overwhelms many jobseekers. Here are some of the basics of health insurance to be aware of:
1) Employers are not required to provide health insurance
While it has become more common for large companies to offer health insurance to employees, there is not currently a penalty fine they are required to pay if they don’t. If you are interviewing with a smaller company be aware that they are less likely than larger companies to offer health insurance, and there aren’t any legal repercussions for them not doing so.
2) Understand the “metal tiers” of Obamacare
If you are unemployed and aren’t covered by COBRA, or work for an employer that doesn’t offer health insurance, Healthcare.gov has multiple options for jobseekers and employees to choose from for health care coverage. If you aren’t likely to need much medical care, you are probably better off with one of the bronze or silver plans. This type of plan costs less monthly but will require you to pay more when you receive medical care. If you are in need of a lot of medical attention, you are probably better off with a gold or platinum plan, which will cost you more monthly but you will pay less for the medical care you receive.
3) Before you shop for health insurance, understand these five terms:
Deductible: The amount you must pay for your healthcare costs before your health insurance coverage becomes effective. So if your deductible is $2,000, you will have to pay 100% of your medical bills until that amount is reached, and then your insurance will start paying their part.
Premium: This is the amount you will pay per month for your health insurance.
Co-pay: This is the amount you will have to pay for prescriptions, doctor’s visits or other services once your deductible has been reached (so the co-pay is what is left over after your health insurance pays their amount).
Co-insurance: This is the percentage of your healthcare costs you will pay after your deductible has been reached.
Out-of-pocket maximum: This is the maximum amount of money you will pay every year for healthcare costs.
4) Be aware of the possible waiting period for insurance
When you start a job, many employers require a waiting period of at least a couple months before you can participate in the company’s health insurance plan. So in the meantime, you should find other coverage. If you are currently on COBRA and get a new job, your COBRA insurance coverage may stop, so be sure that if it does you get coverage from Healthcare.gov.
5) Get familiar with Health Savings Accounts
Many employers offer these now. A health savings account, or HSA, is a special type of savings account that allows you to deposit part of your income before it is taxed, and use it for healthcare costs. HSAs are usually paired with a high-deductible health insurance plan, to lighten the amount you will have to pay out of pocket for healthcare coverage.
6) Ask if your new employer offers a wellness programs
Many employers also offer wellness programs now to encourage employees to develop and maintain a healthy lifestyle. Some of the services offered to employees through these programs include gym memberships or fitness classes, nicotine cessation programs and weight-loss counseling. If you participate in the company’s wellness program, many employers will reduce your health insurance costs.
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