How Does Health Insurance Work When Switching Jobs?

Health insurance is a wonderful benefit offered by many employers, but what happens when you switch jobs? Does your insurance move with you? Do you have to obtain new insurance? Can you continue on the same plan and keep the same doctor?

All of these questions are important when changing jobs with employer-sponsored health insurance. Of course, every situation is different, so you’ll want to discuss your specific case with your current and future employers prior to making the change. This can typically be handled through the human resources department of both companies.

Changing Policies and Gap Periods

The most common scenario when changing jobs with insurance is one that involves you leaving your old policy and beginning a new one. This will often involve changing insurance providers from the one utilized by your previous employer to the one being utilized by your new employer. Even if both employers have the same insurance provider, there’s no guarantee that your previous plan will be available at your new job.

When changing policies, there will probably be a gap period between ending your old job and beginning your new one. Even if there isn’t a gap, some employers will not begin offering insurance coverage for new employees until a certain amount of time has passed after starting the job.

The good news is that many insurance plans provide coverage for the entire month or even the entire benefit period that you’ve paid for. This means that you will likely have some time in between ending your job and starting your new one where coverage will still be in effect.

COBRA Policies May Help

If you’re not able to extend your current coverage long enough to completely fill the time between your old insurance ending and your new insurance beginning, you may be eligible for a COBRA plan. The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, or COBRA, provides workers with the ability to continue current insurance coverage in specific circumstances, including leaving a job with employer-sponsored insurance.

Not every employer or situation qualifies for COBRA, but if your situation does, you can potentially extend your coverage to fill in the gap between employer coverage. It should be noted that COBRA plans may cost extra, so you may see your expenses go up.

Keeping Your Doctor

When it comes to the issue of keeping your doctor, you may be able to keep your doctor as long as their services are covered by your new plan. You can, of course, continue to see your doctor if you’re willing to pay out-of-pocket, but as far as insurance coverage is concerned, your doctor will need to be listed as an approved provider in most cases in order for services to be covered.

You may also run into a situation where your new insurance is considered a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO). Under these types of plans, you may receive out-of-network benefits that help to cover costs for seeing medical service professionals who are not a part of the insurance provider’s network. Out-of-network coverage and costs can vary, so you’ll need to speak with your provider to learn more.

If your doctor is in-network, your insurance policy should cover the costs; however, you may see a difference in things like copayment or coinsurance rates. These are either predetermined costs to you or predetermined split costs between you and your employer that the policy will dictate. To learn more, you’re encouraged to speak to your health insurance provider.

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