Magazine article Black Enterprise

Health Coverage after Job Loss: Investigate Your Options before You Get the Ax

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Health Coverage after Job Loss: Investigate Your Options before You Get the Ax

Article excerpt

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

WHEN BYRON WESSON OF DAYTON, OHIO, LOST HIS JOB as a manufacturing engineer at Delphi Corp. after the automotive parts supplier outsourced Wesson's position to a plant in Mexico, he joined 1.3 million people left unemployed last year as a result of layoffs. He also joined 46 million Americans struggling without health insurance. Currently residing in Dallas, his family gets by with a discount drug card from the neighborhood pharmacy, free health clinics, and, if necessary, the county hospital. "In the back of my mind, I know we're going to have to do something," says 47-year-old Wesson. "We're on borrowed time."

Experts say there's no quicker way to hamstring your finances than having an accident without health insurance. Forty-one percent of working-age Americans in 2007 were struggling to pay off medical debt, up from 34% in 2005, according to a report from The Commonwealth Fund, a New York City-based nonprofit studying healthcare policy. Between searching for jobs, learn your rights. For example, the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, also known as COBRA, extends health insurance coverage from your former employer. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 protects your family from discrimination because of pre-existing medical conditions. Wesson initially looked into COBRA coverage for his family, but continuing with Delphi's health plan under COBRA would have cost him $2,000 a year. Unlike when you're employed, with COBRA you're paying the entire premium without the company's help. …

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