The world we live in is changing at a bolstering rate, from the way we communicate to the ways we work. While most of these changes are for the better, some areas need to be addressed, such as the ways we receive our healthcare.
The last two years have been an unprecedented experience for how we define our workspace and our healthcare needs. Whether people participated in the Great Resignation or were laid off due to the pandemic, our healthcare experience requires an update that reflects how we live in 2022.
The Great Resignation
In 2021, 47.4 million people left their jobs in search of higher pay, careers more aligned with their skill sets, and, generally, better opportunities. Even as I write this, people are still resigning from their jobs in droves. But what does this mean for the majority of Americans (58%) who receive their healthcare coverage from an employer-sponsored plan and decide to leave for other opportunities?
Fortunately, the significant percentage of people leaving their jobs for others more aligned to their skills or lifestyle is a good sign of a healthy economy. Although we should always pursue a career that brings us the most fulfillment and satisfaction, we need to be aware of the possible ramifications regarding our healthcare coverage when transitioning out of our current job.
Most people only leave their jobs when they are certain of where their next source of income is coming from, but sometimes benefits do not kick in until your first 90 days (about three months) are complete. If you do find yourself in a situation where you have recently left your job and are in need of health insurance, you have 3 options:
- Purchase an Affordable Care Act (ACA) plan
- Switch to partner’s plan (if possible)
After you leave your employer, you are entitled to a continuation of health benefits from your job-based insurance policy through the federal Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA. Typically, you can continue this coverage for up to 18 months after leaving your employer. It is essential to be aware with COBRA sponsored plans that you are responsible for paying the entire premium.
An alternative option is to purchase an ACA plan through the public exchange on the health insurance marketplace. No matter what time of the year it is you will be able to enroll into a since you lost coverage through your previous employer, which will give you a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for gaining the coverage you need. While anyone can buy health insurance under the ACA, those with household incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL) may qualify for financial assistance that reduces premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
Lastly, if you have a partner or spouse, you can always switch to their plan, even if it’s just temporarily. This may be the most convenient choice if available.
Whichever option you decide to go with, it’s always important to consider which plan will cost you the least amount when it comes to not only the premiums but the copays and deductibles.
The Gig Economy
On the contrary, over the last few years, the gig economy has exploded into a main or supplemental source of income for over one-third of Americans (36% or 59 million Americans). In recent studies, it has been projected by 2023, more than half (52%) of the US workforce will either be gig economy workers or have worked independently at some point in their career.
What’s alarming about the above statistics is that most temporary or contract workers in the gig economy experience more hardships when needing to access affordable health insurance than their traditionally employed counterparts who receive benefits from their employer. Although many are receiving the healthcare services they need now because of the Public Health Emergency, what will they do once it comes to an end in April?
As previously mentioned, those between a certain percentage of the FPL may qualify for financial assistance and other subsidies, but they still need help navigating through the variety of plans.
What We Can Do
American Exchange is more than willing to work with you to review all of your available options with you whether you’re transitioning to another role or need healthcare coverage as a contract worker. As an independent agency, we have the ability to compare plans from multiple companies to see which best fits your needs and advise you of any subsidies or financial assistance you may qualify for.