The Covid-19 pandemic is causing seismic changes in the workplace. Employers that are driven to ensure production continues are finally embracing work from home, with many already announcing that employees will work from home through the end of the year or permanently. For some, the workplace changes are a breath of fresh air and for others, it’s been difficult, to say the least.
There are always reasons to change jobs, including taking the next step in your career, working closer to home or expanding into a new area of interest. In a booming economy, jobs are plentiful and employers value highly skilled workers, which can make it safer to change jobs. During a health pandemic, where over 11% of the workforce was unemployed as of June 2020 and over 5,000,000 people had reportedly lost their health insurance between February and May 2020, it can be a scary time to change jobs and change your health insurance plan. In fact, in my company’s recent survey, we found that 49% are reluctant to switch jobs right now because they want to keep their health benefits during a pandemic. Here are five things to consider if you make the change.
Examine Your Current Plan
It’s always sage advice to read and understand your health insurance plan. Many of us don’t actually pull out the policy form until something awful happens and we need to know if we’re covered. In times like these, it’s better to be prepared. Review your current health insurance plan by starting with the Summary of Benefits page; that will give you a quick snapshot of what you can expect the plan to cover.
Determine Your Health Insurance Needs
To understand what kind of health insurance coverage you want and need, it’s important to know what you may want to cover. If you have any pre-existing conditions or chronic conditions like diabetes or emphysema, you’ll want your new health insurance plan to cover your conditions. If you take prescriptions for an ongoing medical condition, you may want prescription coverage as well. Or, be aware if you’re one of the lucky healthy ones who does not have a preexisting condition or need ongoing prescriptions.
Assess Your Budget
Reviewing your monthly budget and savings account will help you see whether a high-deductible plan with low monthly premiums is right for you, or whether a low-deductible plan with high monthly premiums is better for your situation. It’s important to know that high-deductible health plans can have out-of-pocket costs as high as $6,900 for an individual and $13,800 each year for a family. If you have a healthy savings account that can contribute to a high-deductible plan, a lower monthly premium may be a good option for you. If your company offers a Health Savings Account (“HSA”), this could also help to pay the deductible and make a high-deductible, low-monthly-premium plan more attractive.
Check Out The New Plan Before You Say Yes
Before you accept the job, you can ask to see all the information on the health insurance plan and any HSA the company offers. The health insurance plan the company offers is part of their overall benefits package, and you should take the time to compare it against your current plan so that you know if the coverage is better in certain areas, worse in others — or about the same. Check to see if your doctor is in the new plan’s network. And remember to check how much the monthly premium and deductibles are; these will vary and can be an important factor in your budget.
Options If The Job Doesn’t Work Out
What happens if your worst fears are realized and the job doesn’t work out? Will you be left without health insurance options during a health pandemic? Rest assured that there are several options. First, you may be eligible to continue the employer’s plan through Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (“COBRA”) at your own expense. Another alternative is an Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) plan, which should cover you for any pre-existing conditions and more. If you do not have preexisting conditions or require regular prescriptions, a short-term, limited-duration plan may be an option to consider. Short-term, limited-duration plans were designed to cover people who are between jobs for unexpected accidents or illnesses.
Switching jobs during a health pandemic doesn’t have to be scary. Take a moment to acknowledge what you need in a plan, compare your current plan and the new plan, keep your budget in mind and remember, you have options.