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Many employers across the U.S. are being forced to implement furloughs or mass layoffs, which means more and more Americans are finding themselves out of a job. But given the severity of the coronavirus, health coverage is a necessity and only expected to become more important in the coming weeks.
So, whether you're switching between companies or were let go of to no fault of your own, we're going to make sure you get the coverage you need to stay safe during this pandemic. Continue reading for insights to questions you should definitely know the answer to at this time.
Employers may provide health insurance and benefits to furloughed employees, but the extent will vary by state. Furloughed employees who continue to receive health insurance while on temporary leave may also be eligible to file an unemployment claim. They will, however, still be responsible for out-of-pocket costs on additional medical care.
A furloughed worker is still an employee of the company, but they cannot work or receive pay over a certain period of time. Budget cuts, seasonal work and company reorganization are a few of the factors that push employers to implement furloughs in the first place. And furloughs can last anywhere from a few weeks to half a year until there's no longer a need to pause spending. When the company reopens, a furloughed employee can return to their job and expect to receive regular compensation.
Employers cannot discriminate in order to make furlough decisions, so anyone can be furloughed. This is usually determined by finances and function: who the company can afford to retain and who they need to help operate the business successfully on a compact scale.
If you lost your job to no fault of your own, you qualify for weekly unemployment payments; just file an unemployment claim over the phone or online. You may earn up to half of what you did while you were employed, but the exact amount varies by state.
Benefits are usually discontinued for employees who are let go as immediately as their termination date or as late as the last day of the month they were terminated in. Under COBRA, you can stay with your employer health insurance plan but you'll have to pay for the health insurance and any additional medical care on your own.
You can use funds from a high-deductible plan or a health savings account (HSA) to help pay for COBRA and your medical costs. Terminated employees with flexible savings accounts (FSAs) can only use that coverage for medical costs. If you were laid off, check in with your employer to see if they can subsidize your COBRA coverage for a small period of time.
Employees who are let go can also lean on the Affordable Care Act for insurance because you may qualify for a premium tax credit which could substantially decrease your premium costs.
If you've recently lost your job or landed a new job but won't receive benefits for another few weeks, you have a number of options. You can also get covered under your spouses health insurance plan, receive coverage from COBRA, opt for individual insurance (or ACA exchanges) and apply for medicaid.
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