Asking for a friend...Got fired, need health insurance, now what?
October 23, 2014 5:52 PM   Subscribe

I just got fired. I was miserable and stressed and planned to have a talk with the CEO on Monday. Instead, he fired me today. I'm in California. What rights, if any, do I have?

I was an exempt employee, got no notice, and am being treated like I embezzled something. As it happens, my boss was super frustrated because he wanted me to implement various things more quickly, didn't tell me until 2 weeks ago, and then fired me today. I'll survive but desperately need my health insurance and have no savings, as this was a low-paying startup. Cobra is expensive: Could I maybe suggest a proposal where I consult for insurance alone? All ideas welcome. Thanks!
posted by Ruthless Bunny to Work & Money (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I got laid off a few months ago. Cobra was a LOT. Way more than I could pay.

I signed up for an ACA plan, it was MUCH cheaper. You can get month to month plans, also. This is probably the first place you should look.
posted by RustyBrooks at 5:55 PM on October 23, 2014 [10 favorites]

File for unemployment right now. And then go to to look at the exchange (it's cheaper than my work insurance) for healthcare.

One potential problem that you need to confirm: I was about to sign my unemployed husband up for the exchange when I found the fine print that you can't use the exchange if you can get insurance anywhere else. I don't know if that means COBRA or not.

Get your resume polished and posted in the usual locations for your industry by mid-morning tomorrow.

I doubt they'll let you work there in any capacity any more, and it's not really possible to work only for insurance. You have to be working full time and getting paid.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:03 PM on October 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

CA employment law is convoluted as heck. They probably need to talk to a real lawyer.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:07 PM on October 23, 2014

I don't think COBRA counts against Covered CA; I just moved to CA and my old HR told me to go on Covered CA as COBRA is mad expensive. I found Covered CA's website relatively easy to use and haven't had any problems yet. Your friend will not be able to get coverage until December though as you have to sign up for a plan before the 15th and pay before the 23rd in order to get coverage for the following month. Plan costs are rising in November, and it's open enrollment so the phone lines will probably be busy, but there are a number of catastrophic plans and basic HMOs that are not very expensive.

If you can work as a consultant, I would suggest developing a game plan that involves marketing yourself as a consultant or freelancing instead of trying to work something out with your previous company.
posted by jetlagaddict at 6:15 PM on October 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

They might need to talk to a lawyer if they want to pursue something about being fired. The question is kind of a mess - most of the details above are not really relevant when it comes to finding out how to get affordable insurance.

If they need help getting insurance I do not think they need to talk to a lawyer. In addition to the website for ACA for CA, there is probably a phone number you can call, also, though, and they may have some advice.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:16 PM on October 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh, and yeah I forgot about the fact that enrollment periods are weird for ACA. I bought a cheap temporay plan (1 mo) from some random insurance broker to cover that period. It was basically only catastrophic insurance, but for 1 month I thought that was better than nothing.
posted by RustyBrooks at 6:18 PM on October 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you can manage day-to-day medical needs for now, you have a little while to sort this out, as you have 60 days to sign up for COBRA, and that will be retroactive if you need it for some catastrophic event. Also, find out from the company exactly when your health insurance cuts out. I think at some places, you will still be covered until the end of the month.

If your income is low enough to qualify you for Medical, look into that right away. Otherwise, I would find a plan on the exchange -- they are heavily subsidized for people with low incomes.
posted by ktkt at 6:18 PM on October 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

Note that in general COBRA can be used as retroactive insurance for 60 days. Meaning don't plan any routine/non-emergency care, but if you have something catastrophic happen within 60 days, you can activate COBRA at that point and it will cover you retroactively. It's expensive, but way cheaper than no insurance at all.

Fill out the COBRA forms, write the check, put it in an envelope, and make sure you have a friend that knows where it is and can mail it if you suddenly get hit by a car and put into a coma (because if you miss that 60 days you're screwed).

I would not recommend you suggest to your boss that he re-hire you as a consultant; it is not likely to go over well. Focus on applying for new jobs and working your network to the best of your abilities.
posted by brainmouse at 6:22 PM on October 23, 2014 [5 favorites]

If their beef was timeliness, and they're strapped for resources, I don't think you should spend energy trying to rekindle anything with them. I don't know what the exit was like, but for liability reasons a lot of companies treat any termination, including layoffs, abruptly. It sucks, but it's not unusual.
posted by zippy at 6:58 PM on October 23, 2014

Seconding the ACA. As I've said a few times too many on Metafilter, having Medi-Cal thanks to Obamacare saved my life this year. It can be a bureaucratic mess to sign up, but once you're in you'll be so glad.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:37 PM on October 23, 2014 [5 favorites]

As an aside, just because they were designated exempt doesn't mean that they legally were. They may be due back overtime pay.
posted by rhizome at 9:56 PM on October 23, 2014 [2 favorites]

You lost a job. Therefore, you are eligible for ACA special enrollment.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 4:58 AM on October 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't know anything useful about employment in CA, unfortunately. Just wanted to say I'm so sorry you lost your job. I hope you've had some positive developments since October.
posted by edarrow at 5:46 AM on December 9, 2014

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