In the medical community, practitioners commonly find themselves in work environments that don’t suit them. This takes a toll on their mental and physical health, eventually affecting family members that are so dear to them. Too commonly, practitioners have a long list of excuses for why they won’t leave an employed position that is not for them. Frequently on that list of reasons is the cost of health insurance if they were to lose their full-time employment. Really? Will you let the cost of health insurance determine if you should stay at a job where you are not happy? How much is your happiness worth to you? We bet your happiness is worth more than the cost of having your own health insurance plan.
This article reviews healthcare plans offered by employers and dives into the options practitioners have for health insurance once they leave their employed positions.
Health insurance plans through an employer.
The health insurance your employer provides is an employer-sponsored health insurance plan or a “group” plan. An employer-sponsored plan will always be more convenient for most practitioners. It’s easy! Become employed, and TAH-DAH, your health insurance is set. No application or need to compare different carriers or plans. You will be covered by your employer’s plan no matter your age, medical status, medications, or smoking history.
A healthcare plan offered to you by an employer will always be cheaper than if you were to go out and get your own. Most employers pay at least 50% of the practitioner’s premium, with some paying up to 90%. If a practitioner has their own solo policy thru their employer, they might pay around $75 biweekly toward their premium. In contrast, the employer may contribute $200 biweekly to your premium. This means that you, the employee, are paying $1,950 annually, and your employer is paying $5,200 toward your health insurance premium. The average annual premium for a solo policy within an employer-sponsored plan is around $7,500. In comparison, if you were to get a family policy thru your employer, the average annual premium would be about $20-25,000. Your contribution to the yearly premium for a solo or family policy will always be significantly cheaper thru an employer-sponsored plan than getting a policy on your own.
Your employer’s health insurance plan will likely have a lower deductible than if you were to have your own policy, which might save you money. In addition, your co-pays will be as good or better than what you could get with an individual policy on the open market. Employers may provide you the option to have a healthcare plan that allows you to invest in a Health Savings Account (HSA).
One of the downsides of employer-sponsored health insurance is that it is a group plan, meaning that you may be significantly limited by which physicians treat you and where you are treated.
Health insurance options if you choose to leave your full-time employment.
Part-time Employment. An often forgotten tactic to get health insurance is asking an employer for part-time employment. Each facility will have a set minimum of hours and/or shifts to be considered a part-time employee with benefits. For example, a hospitalist may be able to do seven shifts per month to participate in an employer-sponsored health insurance plan.
COBRA. When leaving a full-time position, you will be provided the option, thru COBRA, to continue with your current employer-sponsored plan. You will have up to 60 days to apply for Cobra once your employee benefits have expired. Insurance thru COBRA is not cheap! You will be responsible for the employee and employer contribution to your insurance premium. In other words, if you are paying $200 per month and your employer is paying $400 per month, then you will be expected to pay $600 per month with COBRA. COBRA then tacks on a 2% service fee. So instead of paying $200 per month, you would be paying $612 for the same policy you had when you were employed. You can keep this policy going for 18-36 months, depending on what they allow you to do.
Use your partner’s health insurance. A simple option for some is to switch to their partner’s health insurance plan.
ACA plan from healthcare.gov. Some of the most affordable health insurance plans will be found thru ACA. Please recognize that open enrollment is from November 1 – January 15th. For those looking for health insurance outside open enrollment, some plans will offer “special enrollment periods.” Most ACA plans will have higher deductibles than your employer’s, and you may not be eligible for HSA.
Large Health Insurance Plans. You can go thru a broker or a carrier’s agent to get a health insurance plan from one of the larger carriers (i.e., Aetna, Human, BCBS). You will find many options for coverage. Many of these plans will have a larger deductible and be more expensive than an employer option.
Medicare. Are you old enough? If so, Medicare is a more affordable option than healthcare plans provided by commercial carriers.
Associations. An association brings together independent medical professionals, sole proprietors, tradesmen, and small businesses to create a group healthcare plan. These associations can offer similar healthcare plans to what an employer might offer. Although these healthcare plans will offer great options, they will be more expensive than the ones offered thru the ACA.
Catastrophic or Cost-sharing plans. These plans provide coverage for the ER, surgery, and inpatient admissions when needed. These plans do not cover you for other routine clinic visits, procedures, and labs. These plans are cheaper than traditional health insurance plans but may have high deductibles.
Direct Primary Care (DPC). You might find that paying cash for DPC, labs, and imaging may be less expensive than other options on the open market for health insurance. Ensure you are covered if you require a visit to the emergency room, hospitalization, or surgery.
Self-Insured. Always an option but never recommended as your only option. At a minimum, consider getting a catastrophic plan to avoid going bankrupt if something terrible happens to you.
For anyone, it can be difficult to leave an employed position that is not for them. Don’t let paying for health insurance be your excuse for leaving your employed position. Health insurance plans on the open market will likely be more expensive than your employer’s, but paying for health insurance on your own may outweigh sticking with an unpleasant job. Those that consider the cost of health insurance on the open market too expensive should look at alternative ways to be covered, including DPC, cost-sharing plans, and/or catastrophic plans. This article hopefully provided a brief overview of your healthcare options when planning to leave your current employer.