Unemployment figures are not encouraging these days. If the current financial woes are not corrected soon, experts predict more job losses on the horizon. You can read other articles on how US jobs will be affected. My concern is that many more families may lose their health benefits when they lose their jobs.
Of course, most of us have heard of COBRA laws. This law provides for the continuation of a group health plan for several months after a job loss. However, not all companies fall under the COBRA laws, so not every employee is protected. In addition, covered employees will probably find out that their premium will be much more expensive. This is because the company does not have to contribute to the plan any longer, and the ex-employee will be responsible for the entire amount. I have talked to many people who lost their jobs, and they were shocked to see just how much their company had paid for their health insurance. It would not be unusual for an employee contribution to jump from a few hundred dollars a month to over a thousand dollars a month.
Another option is to look at individual health insurance plans. For healthy people, especially fairly young people, premiums can be more affordable than group rates. This is because the companies are usually allowed to cherry pick their customers, and so they only have to take people who are healthy. That way, they can keep the rates low. Some minor health conditions may cause a higher premium, while major health conditions can result in declines though.
So I would always advise a person with health issues to try to keep their group coverage if they can. However, I would advise a healthy family, especially one in their 30s or 40s, to compare individual health insurance rates. An exception to that would be a case where the mother of the family may become pregnant, or already is pregnant. Many individual health insurance plans do not include maternity coverage unless the pregnancy causes complications. In general, pregnant women will be covered better under a group health plan. In some states, individual health insurance companies will decline any family with a pregnant family member.
Now some states do have other protections for lower income families, or families with a pregnant females. It is worth looking into these plans if other options are not available or not affordable. Even though these plans are for lower income families, in some cases the income range goes into middle income. For instance, one state's children's health insurance program does cover pregnant mothers too.
Of course, another option is to try to find any job that offers health insurance, even if it is not the perfect job. In the best case, unemployed people would want to use their time to find a better job that suits their skills and personality. However, if you have a health problem that requires health insurance, it may be best to go out and get coverage by working in a lower paying job that includes a good group health plan. I think it is too bad that this is the case, but it may be reality for some people.