Wealth Noir has covered a series of topics about healthcare insurance plans. We have armed entrepreneurs with options if they are self-employed or small business owners. We have also covered health insurance 101 and defined all the current plans for individuals trying to navigate the healthcare industry’s alphabet soup.
Whether you are retiring, leaving your job or aware that layoffs are coming, health insurance still matters to you. This guide will cover what to do when life happens. If you lose your job or decide to quit, healthcare should be one less thing to worry about. So I’ve provided some tips about how to stay insured during your life transition. I also discuss health insurance options for the adventurous. If you and your family are considering moving overseas, healthcare insurance should be a critical part of your plan.
Healthcare When You Leave Or Lose Your Job
If you quit or get fired from your job, you have to act fast if you do not want a disruption in your healthcare insurance. Most companies will discontinue your insurance coverage at the end of the month. The only exception is if you negotiated extended healthcare benefits in your severance package.
When you leave your job, regardless if you quit or get fired, you have two ways to keep your family covered. Option one is to sign up for a healthcare plan through the government’s Health Insurance Marketplace. Open season is November 1 through December 15, but if you lose your job outside of this time frame you can still apply for insurance. Losing your job and your employer-sponsored healthcare plan is a life-changing event that qualifies you for a special enrollment period. After you complete the application you will be informed if you qualify for any insurance savings or your state’s Medicaid and/or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).
Option two is COBRA. COBRA is the law that requires companies to extend insurance coverage to employees who are laid off or quit up to 18 months after their last day. However, there is a catch. You can keep your employer’s insurance, but your employer is not going to pay any part of your premiums like before. Once you leave, 100 percent of your health insurance cost is on you. That is a huge responsibility to undertake, especially if you are unsure about your next paycheck. The law gives you up to 60 days to decide if you want to pay the cost for your coverage. If you miss your deadline, for any reason, you cannot ask for insurance coverage from your former employer again.
Health Insurance for the Expat
If you’re moving from one country to another, it’s important to include health insurance coverage in your plans. Some countries will not even give you a residence visa until you can prove you will not be a burden to the government. As a result, they may require proof of income and health insurance.
If you are moving overseas to work for your current employer, you may be able to keep your existing healthcare coverage. Check with your insurance company first. When I live overseas for my job, I keep my health insurance plan. However, how I pay for healthcare changes. I have to cover all my medical expenses up front and then seek reimbursement from the insurance company. To ensure I am prepared, I have a strong savings account to cover the unexpected and regular medical appointments.
If you cannot take your current insurance with you and plan to live overseas for a year or more, consider a global medical plan. The cost of these plans can vary but they’re based on your current health, the amount of coverage requested and how much you want to pay for premiums. Some global plan companies include Cigna and GeoBlue.
Warning: Travel Insurance is Not Medical Insurance
In general, Medicaid, Medicare and some private health insurance plans do not pay for medical expenses you incur overseas. So you should get the right insurance before you go abroad as an expat. It’s important to note travel insurance and travel health insurance are not the same thing.
Travel insurance with emergency medical care will cover you in the event of an emergency. Read the fine print to know what procedures are covered. This type of short-term insurance is for vacations and short trips abroad. Your credit card may give you basic coverage and your airline may offer a more extensive plan, but this is only for emergencies. If you are moving abroad, you need health care insurance.
On the other hand, travel health insurance is for long-term health care coverage overseas. This insurance covers routine appointments while you are living abroad. If you are going to become an expat and live abroad for a long period of time, ensure you are getting long-term medical insurance. There are plenty of resources online and they vary by country. Try searching for “expat insurance [insert country]” and look for credible resources with lots of details and links to government websites. Many countries offer national healthcare and will cover you depending on your visa.
If you are going to a remote country with lower medical care standards than the United States, consider purchasing medical evacuation insurance before your trip. This insurance will pay for your transport back to the United States or the nearest developed country if you require emergency medical care that the country you are visiting cannot provide. Some medical evacuations outside the United States can cost $50,000 if you need a private plane or medical team to accompany you, and most companies require payment upfront. If you require a medical evacuation, the cost for one is not covered by your local U.S. embassy. However, if you are able to take a regular plane your costs may be limited to a last minute plane ticket.
For more tips and resources on how to handle your health while aboard, check out the State Department’s page Your Health Aboard.
Are you living abroad? How do you manage your healthcare needs? Please share with our community some of your experiences regarding emergency or long-term medical care insurance.
Acquania Escarne is the creator of The Purpose of Money, a community of women building generational wealth for their families one dollar at a time. As an entrepreneur, real estate investor, and licensed insurance agent, Acquania has always been passionate about financial literacy. On her website, Acquania blogs about ways to help you improve your money habits, create wealth, and invest in real estate. Follow Acquania on social media for daily tips.