WHERE DO PEOPLE GET HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE?
Most Americans get health insurance through their jobs or are covered because a family member has insurance at work.† This is called group insurance. Group insurance is generally the least expensive kind.† In many cases, the employer pays part or all of the cost.
Some employers offer only one health insurance plan. Some offer a choice of plans: a fee-for-service plan, a health maintenance organization (HMO), or a preferred provider organization (PPO), for example. Employers with 25 or more workers are required by Federal Law to offer employees the chance to enroll in an HMO.
What happens if you or your family member leaves the job?† You will lose your employer-supported group coverage.† It may be possible to keep the same policy, but you will have to pay for it yourself.†† This will certainly cost you more than group coverage for the same, or less, protection.
A federal law makes it possible for most people to continue their group health coverage for a period of time.† Called COBRA (for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985), the law requires that if you work for a business of 20 or more employees and leave your job or are laid off, you can continue to get health coverage for at least 18 months.† You will be charged a higher premium than when you were working.
You also will be able to get insurance under COBRA if your spouse was covered but now you are widowed or divorced.† If you were covered under your parentsí group plan while you were in school, you also can continue in the plan for up to 18 months under COBRA until you find a job that offers you your own health insurance.
Not all employers offer health insurance.† You might find this to be the case with your job, especially if you work for a small business or work part-time.† If your employer does not offer health insurance, you might be able to get group insurance through membership in a labor union, professional association, club, or other organization.† Many organizations offer health insurance plans to members.
Medicare is the Federal Health insurance program for Americans age 65 and older and for certain disabled Americans.† If you are eligible for Social Security or Railroad Retirement benefits and are age 65, you and your spouse automatically qualify for Medicare.
Medicare has two parts: hospital insurance, known as Part A, and supplementary medical insurance, known as Part B, which provides payments for doctor4s and related services and supplies ordered by the doctor.† If you are eligible for Medicare, Part A is free, but you must pay a premium for Part B.