I have a question: For over three years now, my company has been going through layoffs. At first, it was mass layoffs, but now it’s piecemeal, so we’re always looking over our shoulders. Because I feel I’m a threat to my bosses (smarter, younger, more educated, and so on), I feel like I may be next.

I’ve never been laid off or without work. If I do get laid off, I’ll still have my husband’s insurance (thank goodness), but it’s not as extensive as mine. So, have any of the Americans on this board had issues like this? Did you need medicaid? Please tell me what you did or your experience.

First of all, if you feel your job is threatened, you should very quietly and very actively start looking NOW. It’s a jungle out there, but you as a person with a job have a HUGE advantage over everyone who does not. The discrimination against the currently unemployed is worse than ever. Look now.

Secondly, you’ll be legally able to buy something called COBRA coverage for at least 18 months if you need it. Basically you’d pay close to the same rate as the coverage costs your employer for the coverage. So if your plan costs $400 per month and you’ve been paying a percentage of that, your employer must allow you to continue to buy the coverage for $400 per month for at least 18 months. Some states have an extension, for example California has something called Cal-COBRA which gets you another 18 months after Federal COBRA runs out.

Google COBRA and your state name to see what’s what.

Some states have laws (Washington is one) that require insurance companies to provide you with an individual policy without even asking about pre-existing conditions IF you are coming off of COBRA (have exhausted your 18 months of COBRA). This is a great boon to diabetics who might find diabetes care excluded otherwise. However, these policies can be pricey. I have an HMO which is over $420/month, but the “big blues” sell similar policies that are over $800, and when I turn 55 in August, the rates will JUMP several hundred dollars.

At the very least I’d be socking money away into a “what if I need COBRA” account. Figure out what your employer pays for your policy and save until you have at least a year’s worth of COBRA premiums. You must NEVER miss a COBRA payment or you’ll lose your coverage. Not good.

JeanV address this issue well, however I would like to add my experience.

I was a graduate student, earned my degree and graduated last December. Was on ATENA CHECKRING as a graduate assistant, paid by the department I work for. After graduating, am still looking for a job. I did lose my ATENA insurance, since they asked for a payment of $800, which I can’t afford. Now I have Medicaid and they cover all my supplies with a co-payment of $3 or $1 per prescription.

What I will advise you, if it happened and you lost your job, apply for medicaid and hopefully you will get it!
Will save you some $$$

Thanks Jean and Ahmad,
I’m really thankful for your advice.

You’re very welcome. If you decide to apply for Medicaid, they will look at your assets and your recent income and you might get denied (for example, if you made too much or your husband made too much in recent months). Be sure to not miss the COBRA window (I think it’s 60 days to start using COBRA) while you’re waiting to apply for and find out if you’re accepted by Medicaid. If you miss the cut-off for COBRA and are denied Medicaid, you’ll be toast until you find another job with benefits.

At that point, your husband’s policy might be looking pretty good, so don’t forget to look into the cut-off for when he can add you to his policy after you lose your job – if you miss it, you might have to wait until the next “open enrollment” period, with could be many months away. :0\

I agree with Jean, start looking now and don’t wait. I also agree with her about the COBRA. Although it won’t hurt to apply for Medicaid, I doubt that you will get it - your husband is working and you also have access to insurance thru his plan. The rules vary by state, but in alot of state, the income levels are very low. It is like $700 a month in PA.

Thanks everyone. Super advice. It definitely makes me feel more prepared if something were to happen.