Author: Elizabeth Kuzila; MBA Candidate. 15 years in the Apparel Industry, Recently Laid off.
I was caught off guard when my colleagues and I were laid off without warning in October 2022.
Recently, layoffs are in the news almost every day. The loss of stability and work identity, your vacant calendar, and the grueling prospect of looking for a new job can feel overwhelming. I have to admit, of all of the things that I had to deal with when it came to being laid off, healthcare was the toughest.
Your healthcare coverage remains intact until the end of the month in which employment ends, affording you a grace period to seek medical attention. It might be worth negotiating with your employer to get additional months of healthcare when possible.
After your healthcare coverage expires, if you want to continue purchasing the same healthcare package your employer provided, you can take advantage of COBRA. However, it's essential to note that you'll shoulder the entire premium, including the portion previously subsidized by your employer. This cost can be substantial, particularly for comprehensive plans or those with dependents. Enrollment in COBRA must occur within 60 days of losing coverage and up to 18 months past the end of your coverage date.
If COBRA isn’t within your budget, thanks to the The Affordable Care Act, you still have the option to buy healthcare on the open market. Each state has its own rules around the coverage that is offered via the state’s exchange. Pro tip! Leveraging insights from freelancers who navigate similar waters can yield valuable perspectives on hidden gems. There might be an inexpensive option that isn’t obvious when shopping on the market.
Other healthcare considerations:
- Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA)- FSA accounts pre-tax dollars that you put away for health-care related expenses. Though it's a use-it-or-lose-it arrangement, you can still claim costs incurred while you were covered under the plan. Submit those receipts promptly, maximizing your benefits.Still have some time before you get cut-off from your FSA? Here’s a whole website of ideas on how to spend that dough.
- Healthcare Savings Account (HSA)- A HSA rolls over year-to-year and you don't lose access to it when you lose your job. You can even use this money to pay for COBRA premiums, or to cover family medical expenses. Remember though - HSAs are a triple tax advantaged account. You also have the option to invest your HSA as part of your retirement portfolio.
- Fertility Treatments- Some employers offer fertility benefits as part of their healthcare benefits. As part of these benefits, sometimes the employer helps pay for egg or embryo freezing. If you took advantage of this benefit, you may have to self-fund your egg or embryo storage. Options to fund storage might come in the form of a fertility loan or paying a portion upfront to cover a number of years at a discount.
Changing your healthcare provider is never fun. Having to do it on your own without the support of a company can be even more daunting. Know your needs and options to make the best healthcare decision for yourself.