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Lost your job? Don't lose your coverage: 5 tips for securing health insurance

(BPT) - No one wants to lose their job. Not only does it impact your income, but losing your job often means losing access to your health insurance.

Maintaining medical, dental and vision insurance is critical for your health and well-being. If your employer-provided health insurance also includes coverage for your family, it's doubly important to find out how to continue to access your health insurance coverage. Check out these five tips to help you along your health insurance journey post-job loss.

1. Talk with an expert

Insurance terminology and options are complex and can be confusing. That's why it's important to find an insurance expert or adviser who can guide you through the process. They'll be able to look at your specific situation and provide guidance on the most cost-effective solution for your medical, dental and vision insurance needs.

2. Sign up for COBRA extended insurance coverage

You may be able to sign up for COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act) extended insurance coverage after you lose your job so you can maintain your current health insurance plan. It will allow you to keep the same coverage provided by your former employer for up to 18 months.

A drawback to COBRA is that the premiums tend to be higher than what you paid during your employment. However, it is a great option and a safety net during your transition. The window for enrollment is typically 60 days, so don't put off signing up for COBRA so you can continue to access your essential coverage.

3. Hit the marketplace

If you can't afford COBRA or your former employer didn't offer health insurance, it's time to hit the Health Insurance Marketplace. As you shop, you'll find many comprehensive health insurance plans that typically also include dental and vision options. Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for a subsidized plan with reduced premium costs. Take your time, compare plans and talk with an expert to find a plan that fits your needs and finances.

4. Apply for Medicaid or Medicare

Your job loss may significantly reduce your income. If that's the case, Medicaid may be a free or low-cost health insurance option for you and your family. Eligibility varies from state to state, so make sure to look at your state's criteria to see if you qualify.

If you're over 65, have qualifying disabilities or are currently receiving dialysis, you're likely eligible for Medicare. This federal health insurance offers a few plan options. However, some don't include dental and vision insurance, so you may need to purchase additional coverage.

5. Find standalone dental and vision insurance options

In cases where your health insurance options don't offer dental and vision insurance, it's a good idea to research and purchase standalone insurance for these needs. For example, a standalone option for vision care is VSP Vision Insurance, which provides a variety of vision insurance options to help complete your coverage.

VSP doesn't have open enrollment or waiting periods, so you can purchase a vision insurance plan anytime after your job loss. VSP has the largest doctor network, so you can easily find an eye doctor near you and set up an eye exam. To find ways to save on your next eye exam with VSP vision insurance, visit VSP vision insurance.

Job loss can be challenging, but it doesn't mean you have to go without essential health insurance coverage. Using these five tips, you'll be able to navigate the unknown to protect your health and the health of your loved ones.

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