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Health care coverage if the job’s gone

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in Workplace Communication

Given the high cost of health care, many employees worry about what they would do if they lose their jobs.

Experts offer this advice:

Use it before you lose it.
“If you feel a layoff is pending, now is the time for you and your family to get physicals, dental checkups, eye exams and prescriptions filled,” says Tom Billet, a senior executive with the corporate benefits consulting firm Watson Wyatt.

Check your benefits handbook
to see how long your health care coverage will last if you do lose your job. Often, employers will continue coverage until the last day of the month in which the employee worked.

Sign onto your spouse’s plan.
Most companies require any change to be within 30 or 60 days of the “qualifying event” (i.e., being laid off). Some even require written proof from your former employer.

Look into COBRA.
Employers with 20-plus workers make COBRA available for up to 18 months after leaving the job. The cost of that coverage is offset (for the first nine months) by the new federal stimulus plan that President Obama signed into law.

— Adapted from “Hanging On to Health Coverage, if the Job Goes Away,”  Walecia Konrad, The New York Times.

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