Health Insurance If I Resign
December 8, 2020 8:45 AM   Subscribe

I'm in Utah and I'd like to resign soon. I don't have any health conditions (beyond work stress), but I'd like coverage (I have a reasonable emergency fund) in case of COVID. Do I need to apply now to meet the Dec 15 deadline? That seems weird - I'm currently employed. What happens if I apply in Jan, and am I even eligible if I resign? Help!
posted by my log does not judge to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
The website should answer your questions.
posted by soelo at 8:54 AM on December 8, 2020

I'm a bit confused by your question but I assume you're talking about trying to sign up for individual health insurance under the ACA and not talking about COBRA? I believe losing or leaving a job counts as a qualifying event and you should be able to sign up at any time via your state's ACA health insurance exchange, which you should be able to access via

Are you asking if your employer-provided coverage will cover you at all after you resign? That varies by company and by when exactly you leave, you'd have to ask your HR or insurance people. It's usually something like through the end of the month of your last day of work.
posted by Wretch729 at 8:57 AM on December 8, 2020

For ACA plans generally there's a period of open enrollment when anyone can sign up for the year. Then after that, you can (only) sign up if you have some kind of qualifying life event. Losing insurance you had through a job should count even if you quit (or get fired) vs getting laid off.
posted by needs more cowbell at 9:13 AM on December 8, 2020

Response by poster: @Wretch729 - sorry for any confusion: I am definitely confused. I was overlooking COBRA because my paycheck says my company pays $230 and I pay $30, so I'm guessing COBRA would cost me $560 a month, which is a lot. If I look at a site like there are plans for less, but with very large deductibles (this site also has a countdown timer to Dec 15th, which is why I was wondering about that deadline). I've been laid off before and got health insurance through - I guess I've been making the assumption that it's only available to folks in that situation.
posted by my log does not judge at 9:21 AM on December 8, 2020

Leaving job is a qualifying life event, as noted above. A friend of mine in MA got a phone call as soon as he was off his employers insurance to sign up for a MassHealth (ACA in MA) plan. YMMV in UT, but it should still be a qualifying event!
posted by chiefthe at 9:30 AM on December 8, 2020

Worth noting that, unlike every other form of insurance that I know about, you can retroactively sign up for COBRA. So if you were to fall down the stairs and go to the ER, you could then decide to sign up for COBRA and have insurance take care of the costs.

However, in full disclosure, my COBRA experience predates the ACA, so its possible the COBRA rules have changed since then.
posted by sideshow at 9:41 AM on December 8, 2020 [2 favorites]

you can retroactively sign up for COBRA

That's only allowed for the 45 days after your separation event. So yeah, it's a possibility if you are fairly sure you can be on another plan by the end of that time.
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:03 AM on December 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

Also note, if you retroactively sign up for COBRA (like sideshow says), you are definitely covered, but the doctor/hospital won't know that and you enter the wonderful world of being billed directly for services. It's no fun. I've done it, and though I didn't pay any more than otherwise, I paid in many hours on the phone.

nth-ing that leaving your job is a qualifying life event that allows you to enroll in ACA plans outside of open enrollment.
posted by Pacrand at 10:10 AM on December 8, 2020 [1 favorite] is available to any one who had a loss of coverage for any of a number of different "qualifying events" which includes loss of insurance due to quitting your job.

COBRA is a second option - you can check to see which is cheaper although COBRA is only good for 18 months so you will have to find new insurance eventually - usually by getting a new job.
posted by metahawk at 10:16 AM on December 8, 2020

Best answer: Check any ACA policy you consider carefully. They are notorious for high deductibles and there is a clear relationship between cost v. deductibles and co-pays (these are different). If you won't qualify for a subsidy good coverage can be pricey. Your current insurance if you are part of a group is likely to be much more comprehensive and have lower deductibles. Note also that you may need to purchase separate dental and vision insurance, as they are often not included or available through Cobra, and are rarely offered automatically with ACA policies. Again, research carefully.

You would be wise to take advantage now for any dental or vision care you know you need while you are covered by your employer. I hate to tell you, but $530 a month is not high for a good policy. My daughter pays more than that for her ACA policy. - she is not eligible for subsidies.

When she was looking around there were non-ACA "skinny" policies available that excluded things like maternity/GYN coverage or mental helath/behavioral health coverage that were tempting because of their low price, but what if she needed a therapist? What if she developed depression from Covid stress? What if someone purchased this narrow policy and then fell into an addiction? What if she got ovarian cancer? Or got raped? Or got pregnant? All not covered by that policy. Be careful and make sure you are purchasing a truly ACA policy.
posted by citygirl at 10:34 AM on December 8, 2020

Came here to say what citygirl said ... depending on your subsidy situation, you might find that COBRA is the better choice given the quality of the two options.

Check carefully about the deductible -- the last time I was making this choice, my COBRA policy deductible would have been $250 and my ACA policy deductible would have been $5,000. You might find that the ACA policy you can get is, from a practical standpoint, only catastrophic coverage, and you'd see more benefit from continuing with your employer policy for the 18 months that you're allowed. After that 18 months, you might be forced into the ACA policy, but hopefully by that point you'll have another job with coverage -- and we'll all have COVID immunizations!

If you pay $30/month now and your employer pays $230, that should be $260/month, right? Not sure where the $560 figure is coming from. $260/$275 per month is QUITE reasonable and is far lower than even the cheapest, least-robust ACA policy that I have ever been offered.
posted by mccxxiii at 9:20 AM on December 9, 2020

Nthing what citygirl and mccxxiii said -- $560/month for a low-deductible ACA policy (which doesn't sound like the right figure to me either) is normal. I pay $375 for an absolute garbage policy, which would have been called a catastrophic policy just a few years ago but is now called "Bronze." If you can get a decent COBRA policy, do it for as long as you can, because ACA insurance really sucks.

You would think someone would come up with a way for self-employed or unemployed people to get in a group and negotiate better policies. (Hello? US Government? It's me, nosila.)
posted by nosila at 11:46 AM on December 9, 2020

Maybe this goes without saying, but really do your homework on how to determine what you really need for insurance and don't just go with something that seems vaguely similar to what you were getting under your employer group plan (unless, this is absolutely what you know you need and want). I hear a lot of criticism about the high deductible plans out there, but if you're younger/healthier and live relatively safely they aren't all that bad (I mean, all of America's health insurance industry is cause for revolt, but you know what I mean). For example, most of them have deductibles around 6-7k before insurance kicks in. However, ACA rules require they cover very basic healthcare like routine checkups, etc at no cost. If something terrible were to happen to you, you'd be out 6k-7k max for the year and then you're costs would be zero for the remainder of the year. 6k is nothing to sneeze at (and maybe a high deductible plan isn't something you'd want to be on year after year if you had a chronic expensive condition to manage), but ideally you will never have to pay it in the years you're on a high deductible plan. If you do have to pay it because something catastrophic happens or you get really ill, your healthcare costs ($6K deductible + monthly premiums) will still be lower than the $0 deductible + higher monthly premiums + copays that a traditional health plan would entail.

I don't think high deductible plans are great, and certainly aren't for every one (most people?), but they have their place. Work out the numbers for yourself or call a broker to help you decide what you need.
posted by flamk at 9:45 PM on December 10, 2020

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