The Health Insurance Question
Page 1 of 2
One of the biggest concerns when you lose your job is where to find health insurance. Unfortunately, Health Insurance is both a communal and personal issue, hugely complex, and more often than not, incredibly confusing. With health insurance you can simultaneously have hundreds of options and no choices. Sure, there's COBRA, but it's usually prohibitively expensive. Your severance package may cover you for a short time, but it's only a stop gap at best. Getting good coverage on your own from a private insurance company is usually next to impossible, especially when you're living off unemployment.
The choices you make will be hard ones, and could have dire consequences either way. No one can tell you exactly what to do (and I'd be wary of anyone that claims to). What you can do, however, is seek out information. Avoid politicized sites. Stick mostly to government and state websites. I would not recommend going to Wikipedia to get information itself, but it's not a bad place to get started. Mainly, look at the external links and references area to find more credible websites that will help you.
First off, let's look at COBRA. The acronym actually stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (of 1985). It was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan, and among other things, it allowed someone to continue their health insurance coverage after losing a job. However, rather than requiring your employer to continue paying for your coverage, you are personally given the option of picking up the bill. Unfortunately, employers often get group discounts from the insurance company. This means that if you want to continue your coverage, you're going to end up paying far more than what was taken out of your paycheck every week. COBRA is, in fact, often prohibitively expensive. But at the same time, it's worth checking out. And really, a great place to find information about this is your state unemployment office or dislocated workers office.