Health Insurance—Options to Keep Yourself Healthy

A significant risk of job dislocation is the loss of your health insurance. You may have several options to continue coverage during a period of unemployment.

You may be eligible to get health insurance at group rates from your former employer under COBRA—a federal law that typically entitles you to continue your employer's coverage for up to 18 months. To be eligible, you must have been enrolled in your company's health plan while employed. You must also elect to take COBRA coverage once you have been notified that you are eligible by the later of the 60th day after the written notice is sent or the day your health coverage ceases under the company's health plan. If you fail to respond, you and your family will lose your right to COBRA benefits. COBRA coverage will cost the premium that you were already paying plus the amount paid by the company, and an administrative fee of up to 2 percent of the premium. Failure to make full payment on time will result in termination of health insurance. For more information visit the website for the Department of Labor's Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA).

If you are married and your spouse continues working after you retire, you may be able to get health insurance under your spouse's company health plan, if one is available. You should also check health insurance options under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Under that law, you may be able to obtain health insurance, even if you opt to get COBRA coverage for some period while unemployed or when the COBRA period ends. For details, go to the Health Insurance Marketplace website.

Compare the benefits and the cost of all available options to decide what health insurance works best for you.