Avoid Lapse in Health Insurance When Switching Health Insurance Providers
At some point of your life, you might be forced to switch your health insurance provider – you might have just lost your job along with your employer-subsidized health insurance, just graduated from school and thus lose dependency status, or even be going through a divorce, and thus be forced to change health insurance providers due to the dissolved family health insurance plan. When going through this stage, you’ll want to continue receiving the coverage you did when switching health insurance. However, how can you prevent the health insurance gap that often strikes people who’re changing health insurance?
1. Know your legal rights
If you have pre-existing medical conditions, and are forced to switch health insurance providers subsidized by your current employer, know that your employer must allow the same coverage as your previous health insurance package under Title I of the 1996 HIPPA act if it goes in line with the conditions laid out in the HIPPA act.
In addition, if you have just been retrenched by your employer, it is your employer’s duty to inform you of COBRA, where you are allowed to continue benefitting under your previous company’s group health insurance plans up to 18 months.
There might be other legalities that are included in the terms and conditions of your previous insurance policy and in your new health insurance package. Peruse these terms and conditions, and understand the implications when switching health insurance. This way, you’ll understand the best way to avoid a lapse in health insurance.
2. Know the coverage of your new insurance plan
When you sign up for a new insurance plan, you must always scrutinize the scope of coverage for your new plan. You must understand whether your new insurance policy covers what you need, and has the same coverage as your previous plan. If you have developed new medical conditions, the insurance company may not provide you with the same coverage as your last health insurance package. By doing so, you will ensure that you will not suffer a lapse when you switch health insurance.
As mentioned, you will be entitled to COBRA if you are retrenched or otherwise rendered unemployed by your previous employer. As you might be uninsured because you are no longer eligible for your company’s group health insurance, COBRA will help extend the health insurance coverage of your previous company, such that you will still be sufficiently insured from medical emergencies. You are generally given 60 days from the date you cease employment to take up COBRA, and this benefit usually lasts up to 18 months. This step prevents you from having a break in health insurance coverage, while you change your health insurance scheme to cover yourself.
4. Understand your new health insurance’s network.
It must be noted that your new health insurance’s network might not include your primary healthcare provider. As such, you should find one that includes your primary healthcare provider when you switch health insurances – this will eliminate a lot of administrative procedures, as your primary healthcare provider possesses all your medical records and history.
However, if you are forced to change your primary healthcare provider when you change your health insurance, it is good to have the below at hand to facilitate the administrative process – your new healthcare provider will liaise with your previous healthcare provider to obtain your medical records.
- Primary healthcare provider’s business name
- Primary healthcare provider’s full name
- Primary healthcare provider’s business address
- Primary healthcare provider’s contact details
- The last prescribed drugs and treatments ordered
- Last visit’s date
5. Gap health insurance coverage
If you foresee a lapse in coverage when you switch health insurance providers, you should consider getting gap health insurance coverage. These insurances offer temporary coverage for you, such that you will still be properly insured while you are switching health insurance providers. The premiums start from $30, all the way to $100 for a more comprehensive coverage. However, you must note that this insurance is only a temporary solution – it definitely will not possess all the coverage you need from a health insurance policy.
6. Start your new policy at the start of the month
Most insurance policies will guarantee you coverage up to the end of the month. As such, if you request your old policy to be ceased at the end of the month, and your new policy to kick in at the start of the next month, you will avoid the lapse in health insurance coverage when you switch health insurance providers.