Many events can cause your insurance coverage to be terminated, including voluntary or involuntary job loss, reduction in working hours, job transitions, death, divorce, among others. To mitigate the financial strain and stress that these situations can place on uncovered citizens, Congress passed a federal law called the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA). This act can provide you and your family with continuing coverage of group health benefits for up to 18 months while you search for new work or coverage. However, COBRA can be incredibly expensive, forcing you to pay substantial premiums in order to match the benefits that you used to have. This is an especially distressing problem if you’re already struggling with money after losing your job.
It’s not recommended to forgo coverage. Just one serious accident or illness could put you and your family on a road to debt if you are uninsured. Fortunately, there are COBRA alternatives that provide all of the benefits you need while reducing the amount of money you spend on coverage each month. For example, enrolling in a short-term health insurance plan will protect you from the extreme costs of unexpected medical complications. Depending on your state’s laws, plans can last 30 days, 90 days or up to 364 days, and some of them even offer additional non-insurance benefits to help you save money on everyday expenses.
To help you determine which type of coverage is ideal for your situation, let’s review the pros and cons of both options.
The pros of COBRA
COBRA can provide applicants with a range of benefits. With COBRA, you can maintain your health coverage on the same group plan, almost regardless of why your employment or coverage status changed. That means that your insurance won’t be lost even if you were fired by your employer (with the exception of gross misconduct), giving you a solid window of time to seek out new professional opportunities or insurance providers.
Additionally, COBRA extends to a wide range of employers. The law generally applies to all group health plans that are maintained by private-sector employers with 20 or more employees, or by state or local governments. (However, this law does not apply to plans that are sponsored by the Federal Government or by churches.) Additionally, many U.S. states have laws that apply to health insurers of employers with less than 20 employees. These are often called mini-COBRAs. If you’re interested in determining whether this coverage option is viable for your situation, then you can contact your state insurance commissioner’s office for more information.
The cons of COBRA
One of the biggest drawbacks of COBRA is that it limits your coverage window to a maximum of 18 months after your employment ends (unless you have a disability). As a result, individuals who don’t manage to find stable employment with health coverage within this timeframe will lose their insurance plan and financial protection from unforeseeable adverse medical conditions. Once your coverage is terminated under COBRA, you will be responsible for paying the cost of medical services out of pocket.
Once again, COBRA plans can be quite expensive if you are struggling to pay the bills after the loss of employment. When you are employed, your company will often subsidize a portion of your insurance premium. This benefit is completely removed when you continue your plan under COBRA, forcing you to pay much more for your coverage than before. In fact, you might even be charged with an administrative fee just for using COBRA. Individuals who qualify for COBRA may be required to pay the entire premium for coverage, up to 102% of the cost to their plan.
Simply put, COBRA is a solid coverage choice if you have the finances necessary to cover the high cost. But it might not be a viable option for families that need to prioritize saving their money.
The pros of short-term health insurance
The most attractive aspect of short-term health insurance is its cost savings compared to COBRA. By investing in a temporary plan while you wait to get permanent coverage, you will be able to commit much more of your income toward living expenses, retirement, house payments, or anything else you’d like to spend your hard-earned dollars on.
Additionally, many short-term health insurance plans can offer you a wide range of choices regarding which doctors or facilities you seek care from compared to other COBRA alternatives. As a member of a short-term health insurance plan, you’ll have the freedom to choose where you receive care. You’ll be able to work with doctors you trust and respect in locations that are convenient for you.
Unlike COBRA, short-term health insurance plans allow you to reapply for a plan if you still need coverage once your coverage duration has expired (subject to state rules). This feature is valuable for individuals who need to hop between a few jobs before finding one that sticks. Instead of being subjected to the immense pressure of finding a great job with sufficient insurance benefits, you’ll be able to take your time and feel out new employers to find the one that perfectly suits your needs and preferences.
Last but not least, short-term health insurance can offer you a diverse range of additional non-insurance benefits to help you manage your health care expenses. Here at Pivot Health, our short-term members are given the following extra non-insurance benefits:
1. Doctor consultations by telephone or video, 24/7
It’s time to say goodbye to sitting in the waiting room for hours on end to have minor health problems diagnosed and addressed. With Pivot Health, you will have unlimited remote access to experienced physicians for a fraction of the cost of standard office visits. These health care experts can diagnose many medical issues you or a family member experiences within minutes and quickly send many needed prescriptions to your preferred pharmacy. This benefit is available 24/7 for the entire duration of your plan.
2. Savings of up to 70% on prescription drugs
Pivot Health members can text or email prescription drug discount deals directly to their phone (or print out a discount drug card) for use in over 67,000 pharmacies nationwide, ensuring maximum convenience. After signing up with us, you’ll never have to worry about providing sufficient funding for the medication your family needs.
3. Discounts of up to 30% on eye exams, frames, lenses and contacts
If you or any of your family members need prescription glasses or contacts, then you have an intimate understanding of just how expensive these vital visual tools are. And even if you aren’t struggling with vision problems yet, your eyesight will likely start to deteriorate as you age. Fortunately, signing up for a Pivot Health short-term health insurance plan will make you eligible for substantial discounts on eye exams, frames, lenses and contacts. This benefit is a massive boon for any individuals who want to save significant amounts of money on eye care or head vision problems off at the pass with preemptive eye examinations.
Extra benefits are not insurance benefits and are not associated with Pivot Health’s insurance partners.
The cons of short-term health insurance
Unfortunately, a majority of short-term medical plans won’t cover certain pre-existing medical conditions. They usually aren’t a good choice for people with serious chronic health issues. Additionally, some of these plans don’t offer coverage for certain types of medical care, including maternity care and preventive services. That’s why it’s always a good idea to read through their terms and conditions very carefully before applying.
Remember, short-term plans are designed to keep your family covered while you transition between work or find a different insurance provider. The benefits they offer can provide insurance stability, but they aren’t a permanent insurance product.